Although best known for their motorcycles, the Wolverhampton firm of AJ Stevens & Co (AJS) also had a brief foray into the world of car manufacture.
It all started in the summer of 1927 when AJS secured a lucrative contract to build bodies for the new Clyno 'Nine' light car. The contract couldn't have come at a better time for AJS as motorcycle sales were in decline due to the depression and the introduction of cheaper small cars. Unfortunately they faced intense competition from Morris (with the Minor) and Austin (with the Seven) and within two years Clyno had gone bust after only 300 cars had been made.
To try and offset the loss of the Clyno contract, AJS decided to produce its own light car, the Nine, which was announced in December 1929 and designed by Arthur G Booth who had also penned the Clyno version. The chassis was built by John Thompson Motor Pressings at Bilston, the bodies were made at Lower Walsall Street Works, and the final assembly took place at Graiseley Hill. The engine was a 4-cylinder Coventry Climax 1,056cc unit, rated at 8.92hp. The car had a 12-volt Lucas ignition system, 3-speed and reverse gearbox, Solex carburettor, 8-gallon fuel tank and wire wheels with Avon tyres.
The metal instrument panel was finished with a walnut grain paint effect and included a lighting control switch, the lights on the instrument panel also illuminating the floor in the driver's compartment. The seats at the front were well upholstered bucket seats with tilting backs, and the wide rear seat had arm rests. The windscreen was made of safety glass and fitted with a vacuum wiper.
Launched in August 1930 after exhaustive testing, the AJS Nine had 60mph performance and 36mpg economy. The initial model, a 4-door fabric bodied saloon selling for £230, being soon followed by two additional versions, a coachbuilt saloon selling for £240, and a coachbuilt 2-seater with dickey priced at £210. Although initial sales were good, the Nine was on the expensive side when compared with rival products and despite cutting costs to the bone, including building their own version of the Coventry Climax engine, AJS itself became a victim of the depression.
In October 1931 they went into voluntary liquidation, the Nine being sold to Willys Overland Crossley of Stockport for £9,500 in early 1932 and relaunched as the ‘New AJS Nine’, a coachbuilt 4-door saloon costing £229, a price that was soon dropped to £189. Alas sales were not good and the Stockport-based company also went into liquidation. It is not known exactly how many Nines were built but it was probably no more than 1,000 (plus c.300 Willys-built cars) of which only 33 are known to survive worldwide.
According to the buff log book which accompanies the lot, this AJS Nine Saloon rolling chassis was first registered in February 1931 with the Devon-issued number DV 8280. As you can see the car has been completely dismantled at some point in the past and has lost the majority of its bodywork along the way. However, enough parts still remain for a brave restorer to reconstruct the car, or it would be an invaluable source of spares for anyone fortunate enough to own one of the 33 cars thought to survive.
Being entered here on behalf of the AJS Car Club from a past member's estate, it comes with all the parts you can see listed below and in the photos on the website (barring the headlamps), together with the guaranteed help of the Club to assist in the restoration and in the construction of the new body. With complete cars changing hands for £10k+ on the rare occasions that they come to market, it certainly deserves to be resurrected for future generations to enjoy.
Chassis; engine; gearbox; front axle; rear axle; front bumper bar; windscreen frame; cross brake shafts; prop shaft; 2 x front leaf springs; 2 x rear leaf springs; rear spring U-bolts; speedo drive cable; horn button with stalk; foot starter switch; steering wheel; steering column; advance/retard/throttle; radiator; headlamp cross bar (but no headlamps); footbrake pedal; dashboard and brackets; oil gauge; accelerator shaft; clutch release bearing; brake rods and fittings; front mudguards and brackets; Solex carb; starter motor; Autovac; shock absorbers; wheels.