In the summer of 1927 A.J.S. 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 A.J.S. because motorcycle sales were in decline due to the depression and the introduction of cheaper small cars. The bodies consisted of a wooden framework that supported fabric covered panels. They were built in batches of 50 and made at the Lower Walsall Street works. Clyno always tried to ensure that its products sold at a lower price than the competition, and gave value for money. This worked well until the company tried to take on Austin and Morris in a cost cutting war.
Morris had just launched the Morris ‘Minor’ and Austin had released the Austin ‘Seven’. Clyno’s answer to the competition was the ‘Century’, a ‘Nine’ chassis covered in cheap fabric that sold for £112.
The car was unpopular with dealers and only about 300 were built. It destroyed Clyno’s reputation, the car being known as the ‘Cemetery’. The company had recently invested heavily in a new factory at Bushbury and the low sales quickly led to cashflow problems.
Clyno appointed a receiver in February 1929 and the company went into liquidation.
|The birth of the A.J.S. carThe demise of Clyno came at a very bad time for A.J.S. who were also loosing money due to lower than expected motorcycle sales and the demise of the radio business. To try and offset the loss of the Clyno contract A.J.S. decided to produce its own light car, the A.J.S. ‘Nine’. The car was first announced in December 1929 and designed by Arthur G. Booth who worked for Clyno and designed the Clyno ‘Nine’. The diamond shaped A.J.S. logo was designed by his daughter over breakfast one day. Arthur became known as “The General” at the A.J.S. works.
The A.J.S. ‘Nine’ coachbuilt 2 seater with dickey, on display in Conway Garage at the Black Country Living Museum.
Chromium plated bumpers were available for an extra £5.5s.0d. and a sliding roof was also available for the saloon, at an extra £7.10s.0d.
The initial sales were good and increased after the Olympia show in October.
Unfortunately the car was a little on the expensive side when compared with the competition and so in February 1931 prices on all models were reduced by £11.00. At the same time the cheaper 4 door fabric bodied ‘Richmond’ saloon was launched and priced at £197.
In an attempt to reduce the price of the car even further, A.J.S. decided to build its own car engines. The final engine was more or less a carbon copy of the Coventry Climax. Sadly A.J.S. itself became a victim of the depression in October 1931 when it went into voluntary liquidation. The cars sold extremely well in the short time they were produced.
Unfortunately it is not known how many were built. The highest surviving chassis number is 1064 so it could be that just over a thousand were made, but the late Geoff Stevens, the last member of the Stevens family who worked for the company, thought that the total number should be nearer 3,000.
The 4 door, coachbuilt, A.J.S. ‘Nine’ saloon that’s in the collection at the Black Country Living Museum. It has an interesting past as it once belonged to Joe Stevens (senior).
The two A.J.S. cars that are at the Black Country Living Museum.
The front cover of the A.J.S. ‘Twelve’ leaflet.The car, produced by Willys – Overland Crossley Ltd. was first shown at the 1932 Olympia Show, and priced at £325.
It had a 1.5 litre o.h.v. engine but never went into production.