Tag Archives: AJS

Rare British GP racing bike up for auction

An extremely rare 1940s AJS 497cc E90 ‘Porcupine’ Grand Prix racing motorcycle is being offered for the first time at auction and expected to fetch as much as $US425,000.

The bike, previously owned by post-war AJS works rider Ted Frend, will be a highlight of the Bonhams Summer Stafford Sale on 2 July, 2021.

The first 500cc World Championship in 1949 was won by an E90 piloted by Frend’s fellow works rider Les Graham. It was his and AJS’s first and only world title.

It was dubbed the Porcupine by the era’s motorcycle press due to its distinctive spiked ‘head’ finning.

Only a handful of E90s were built by the British firm, purely for its works team.

Frend, who earned a gold star at Brooklands for lapping its outer circuit at more than 100mph (160km/h) on his Vincent-HRD Rapide, was signed up by AJS in 1947 after his fourth place finish in that year’s Isle of Man TT.

He was the first rider to win on the Porcupine at the 1947 Hutchinson 100 race.

Dunholme Lodge Airfield, 1947, 100-Mile Hutchinson Race
Dunholme Lodge Airfield, 1947, 100-Mile Hutchinson Race

Development on the E90 continued over the next couple of years, while the motorcycle picked up 18 world speed records and a number of podium finishes before reaching its 1949 zenith. Graham won two of the six championship races, the Swiss and Ulster Grand Prix, securing the rider’s trophy, while teammate Bill Doran rode to victory in Belgium to ensure AJS’ manufacturer’s title.

Despite its successes, the E90 was plagued by various problems concerning carburetion and its magneto – a magneto shaft failure caused Graham to retire from the 1949 Isle of Man Senior TT, which he was leading, two minutes from the finish. In 1952, its successor, the E95, was introduced, with a revised engine and new frame. Although the spikes disappeared the Porcupine name stuck. The E95 had a dream debut, with a one-two finish in the season-opening Swiss Grand Prix.

Between 1949 and 1954, the Porcupine, in E90 and E95 guise, finished 24 races, securing five wins, seven 2nd places and one World Championship. Ted commented that “for its day, the Porcupine had lots of potential, but its development did not keep pace with the opposition.” In total, only four complete E90 and four E95 motorcycles were produced, along with an unknown number of spare engines.

Ted Frend, who left the AJS team in 1950, also finished his racing career in 1954 to concentrate on his sheet metal business. He maintained that the Porcupine’s glory year was 1949, not just for its World Championship win, but also for holding its own against the more powerful rival Gileras and early MV motorcycles. He said: “At Spa, I managed third place, splitting the Gileras. Masetti, Pagani [Gilera riders] and I were the first to average over 100mph for a full Grand Prix.”

The motorcycle offered was found as a collection of parts in the estate of Ted Frend when he died in 2006. It was his friend and neighbour Ken Senior who acquired the Porcupine and other motorcycle-related possessions from the executors, including Ted’s TT trophies, also offered in the Summer Stafford Sale. Senior oversaw the Porcupine’s rebuild, with missing parts custom made.

Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycles International Department Director Ben Walker says  only two other examples have been offered for sale publicly, both of which Bonhams sold for world record prices at the time.

“With the few known examples being in the world-famous Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum or in the possession of private collectors, this is an extremely exciting, once in a generation opportunity to buy a much coveted and sought-after machine,” he says.

The Porcupine leads the Ken Senior Collection of 90 plus motorcycles which are among 650 lots at the auction, including collector motorcycles, bicycles, spares and memorabilia 2 to 4 July, 2021.

Other highlights include a 1940 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50HP (£60,000 – 75,000) and the Ron Cody Collection of 48 motorcycles, mostly MV Agustas, a significant Norton collection.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Have you seen this stolen AJS motorcycle?

Have you seen this valuable and unique-looking black 1959 AJS 7R 350 motorcycle with a white fairing?

It was stolen from a house on Wangandary Rd, Wangaratta, some time between April 13 and May 10.

Wangaratta Crime Investigation Unit detectives are appealing for help to locate the distinctive motorbike.

Post-war AJS 7R 350cc single-cylinder motorcycles are valuable, fetching as much as $46,000-$54,000.

Police released the above images of the motorcycle in the hope someone may recognise it and be able to provide information on its whereabouts.

Anyone who has information or who may have seen the motorbike is urged to contact Wangaratta CIU on 5723 0888 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Theft running rampant

Motorcycle theft is running rampant throughout Australia, according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.

Thefts increased by 597 (7.3%) last year to a total of 8746 with a recovery rate of just 47%.

Last month, Victorian and NSW police seized 11 stolen motorbikes under investigations into motor vehicle theft and rebirthing.

Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hrambanis says the biggest rises in motorcycle theft were in NSW and Queensland.

“In most cases vehicle theft is almost always opportunistic, with the vehicle being stolen for short-term use and later recovered (78% in Queensland),” Caitlin says.

The Council is shortly expected to release a review of the amended NSW Crimes Act which introduced a new offence of knowingly facilitating a rebirthing activity carried out on an organised basis.

It was designed to deter thieves by applying tougher penalties to any and all members in a theft network involved in stealing your motorcycle or car with tougher penalties.

While it seemed a good idea at the time, the figures seem to show it is not working.

We will have a report on the review in coming weeks.

Theft by state

State or Territory 2017 2018 % change
Thefts Thefts
ACT 126 107 -15.1% 
NSW 1679 1968 17.2% 
NT 126 82 -34.9% 
QLD 1510 1696 12.3% 
SA 521 555 6.5% 
TAS 122 141 15.6% 
VIC 2013 2092 3.9% 
WA 2052 2105 2.6% 
AUS 8149 100.0 8746 100.0 7.3% 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com