By Tom White
AJS is an acronym for Albert John Stevens, one of four sons that started producing AJS motorcycles in 1910. The Stevens brothers’ father financed the new company and then further aided by producing the engines that were used in the motorcycles. Throughout its existence, right up to the time it entered the motocross market, AJS produced its own engines. That was its claim to fame, and the non-AJS engine in the new Stormer motocross machine would be its downfall.
By the early 1970's, the entire British motorcycle industry, including AJS, Matchless, Norton, BSA and Triumph, had been combined into the Norton-Villiers Group. It was the Norton-Villiers Group that pushed the street bike-based AJS brand into the motocross market. Norton-Villiers decided to build a Villiers-powered dirt bike and badge it as an AJS. It was a shameless attempt by the Norton-Villiers Group to unload an oversupply of rapidly aging Villiers Starmaker engines by pairing them with a legendary motorcycle name. While the antiquated engine held the Stormer back, the chassis was a revelation (for the time) as it was the first motocross bike to feature leading axle forks and moved-up shocks.
The Stormer 250 (designated Y4) had some racing success in the British 250cc Championships as factory rider Malcolm Davis won the championship in 1968 and 1969 and his teammate Andy Roberson finished in second. Unfortunately, soon after the Stormer started selling in the American motocross market, Suzuki introduced the TM250 and TM400, and Yamaha introduced the DT1MX and RT1MX. The Japanese bikes were much cheaper (starting at $950 compared to the AJS at $1245) and by 1974 and for years afterward, consumers could purchase brand-new AJS Stormers, in the crate, for $600.
1971 AJS 250 STORMER Y4 FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
Recently, a still crated Stormer sold for $10,000. Unfortunately, even nicely restored AJS's seldom sell for more than the cost of a quality restoration, about $6000.
The 250cc Stormer (Y4), the 370cc Stormer (Y5), and, in 1973, the 410cc Stormer.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
As with all collector bikes, try to find an AJS that is as close to original as possible. You want the standard Girling shocks, gel-coat orange or yellow tank, Reynolds chain, and if it has the original Dunlop Sports tires in like-new condition, the tires themselves are worth about a grand.
AJS Motorcycles in the UK is owned by Fluff Brown, and he claims to be able to supply about any part needed to restore or rebuild any Stormer model. His phone number is 01-264-710074 or check him out on the web at www.ajsmotorcycles.co.uk.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com