AJS Cadwell and the Chinese connection

How did a well-made, nippy, economical and – yes, oiltight – motorcycle made in China come to carry the hallowed AJS name? Pete Kelly asks the questions, and Nick Brown provides the answers.

Could you tell OBM readers something about your background in business and motorcycling, and your father, Fluff?

Fluff was employed at Cotton Motorcycles in Gloucester from 1957 until 1967 as a development engineer and test rider. He saw the introduction of the Villiers Starmaker engine and became involved with testing and reporting back to the Villiers factory.

Decked out in the well-remembered gold-lined black livery of the old AJS 7R racer, this sporty newcomer from the Far East, seen in action at its namesake Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire, looks as if it really means business.

Through Villiers, he was then recruited to become the scrambles team manager, campaigning the new Starmaker-engined AJS Stormer bikes, and when Villiers went into receivership in 1974, he put in a successful bid and purchased the AJS Stormer spares, engineering drawings and tooling, and acquired rights to the AJS name.

Where did your own involvement begin?

I left school in 1977 and started a four-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship with the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down. I
joined my father in 1989 repairing, and supplying spare parts for, the AJS Stormers and soon started racing and manufacturing replica Cotton motorcycles using Starmaker engines
built from new old stock
and remanufactured parts, and rebuilt Triumph 500 engines.

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