Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Ariel Works

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February 1922.
1929 view of Ariel Works.
December 1919.
1921. Motorcycle combination. Exhibit at Grampian Transport Museum.
November 1922. Ariel Nine.
June 1923. Ariel Nine.
May 1923.
August 1923.
May 1925.
November 1927.
1930. Ariel 4F. Exhibit at the National Motor Museum.
1927. Ariel Model B. Reg No. UO 2580.
December 1929.
December 1929.
December 1929.

Ariel Works Ltd, of Selly Oak, Birmingham, makers of bicycles, motorcars and motorcycles

The Ariel name was used by Components Ltd for its cycle, motorcycle and motorcar subsidiaries (the various uses of the name are summarised in Ariel - an overview). Ariel Works was a trademark which had been registered by a precedessor company in 1893[1]. For several years, Ariel Motors (1906) Ltd had handled the production and marketing of Ariel motorcars.

1915 Ariel Works Ltd was registered[2] to handle the motorcycle and motorcar activities together for the first time. This name continued to be used until 1932 (including the racing teams post-war).

1917 Ariel Works Ltd was supplier of Ariel motorcycles and, later, motorcars[3].

1918 Jack Sangster joined the company, of which his father Charles Sangster was managing director. Jack Sangster designed a small low cost car which he began manufacturing. The design of the car was later sold to Rover, with Jack Sangster joining Rover to manage the production of the car which became the Rover Eight model.

In 1923 Jack Sangster returned to work for the company which was headed by his father Charles Sangster; he worked on the design of the Ariel Nine, for which the engine was made by A. Harper, Sons and Bean Ltd.

1924 Introduced 4-cylinder Ariel Ten[4].

1925 End of production of Ariel Nine and Ten; the company concentrated on two-wheelers[5]

1925 The company recruited Val Page to design new motorcycles and improve the archaic engine. The new line of Ariels, introduced at the end of the year, were an instant success. This was not so much because of its technical innovations but mostly for its very attractive styling: lower saddle position, shortened wheel base and high saddle tank. Victor Mole was the new man in charge of sales at the Ariel works and he designed the new eye-catching emblem of the Ariel horse and coined the advertising slogan “Ariel, the Modern Motor Cycle”. Within a few years Ariel sales and profits rocketed.

1927 to 1928 Sales were now ten times as high as the 1925 sales before the introduction of the new line of machines. The firm won the prestigious Maudes Trophy both years. This highlighted the tough, new design and promoted the Ariel marque.

By 1930 Jack Sangster was joint managing director.

1930 The Selly Oak firm ran into financial trouble.

1932 Components Ltd went into receivership. Jack Sangster bought most of the motorcycle business's assets from the receivers, to start a new company called Ariel Motors (J.S.) Ltd. Sangster rebuilt the company using the wealth of design and engineering talent employed by the old company, including men such as Edward Turner, Val Page and Bert Hopwood. He bought the tools for almost nothing, re-hired the cream of Ariel's staff, and moved 500 yards down the road to a new plant.

List of Models

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Jeremy P Mortimore, private communication
  2. The World guide to automobile manufacturers, by Nick Baldwin, Brian Laban. 1987
  3. 1913-1917 Motor, Marine and Aircraft Red Book: Motorcycles
  4. The World guide to automobile manufacturers, by Nick Baldwin, Brian Laban. 1987
  5. The World guide to automobile manufacturers, by Nick Baldwin, Brian Laban. 1987