London,The Jack Barclay Showroom
2 December 2003
1956 ARIEL SQUARE FOUR MOTORCYCLE
Registration number SYE 55
Frame No. GM 529
Engine No. ML 517
Black frame with chrome and black tank.
Engine: 1000cc four cylinder developing 42 bhp at 5,800 rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: plunger front forks, trailing link rear; Brakes: front and rear drum.
Established in 1898 the firm Ariel exhibited all the characteristics of British motorcycle manufacture, their products were well made, sporty and initially of conventional design. In 1929, a much more sophisticated machine made a considerable break with tradition. This was a 500cc four cylinder with a highly unusual square cylinder configuration and single overhead camshaft. This distinctive engine layout became so identifiable with the marque that the nickname "Squariel" passed into the language of motorcycling. The Square Four was designed by Edward Turner, of Triumph Speed Twin fame, it had an all ball-and-roller bearing engine and horizontally-split crankcase. In 1931, the engine was bored out from 51 to 56 mm, thus increasing capacity to 600cc. Although some modest success was achieved in competition, such as the Bickel brothers' supercharged 111.42mph lap at Brooklands in 1934, the machine was really a sporting tourer. In 1936, Ariel launched a 1,000cc Square Four of quite new engine design. This model had a pushrod power-unit, with plain bearings, and it also utilised a unique trailing link rear suspension system. It remained in production in various roadster forms until the late 1950s by which time it boasted an all aluminium engine and four indivdual exhaust pipe ports. By 1956 the model developed 42 bhp at 5,800 rpm, providing a top speed of 105 mph, from a bore and stroke of 65 x 75 mm.
This particular motorcycle was first registered with the number SYE 55 on 18th July 1956, and has retained that desirable number ever since. Finished in chrome and black with Avon Speedmaster tyres and 120mph Smiths speedometer, a rear carrier is also fitted. An archetypal example of the model, this Ariel benefited from a high quality restoration when in the ownership of the previous owner, a Mr Snelling of Hemel Hempstead, between the years 1990 and 1992. This great machine has not been ridden much since 1993 and still in fine condition would make an ideal contender for historic bike events.
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