AJS and Matchless Owners Club Limited

AJS & Matchless Owners Club

Machine History - Racers

Porcupine and E95

7R (350cc)

The engine of the 7R is of a pre-war idea that was completely re-designed, although most people remember it from post-war days. One of the first machines to be fitted with telescopic forks and hydraulically damped rear suspension. As always with the racing world, a steady programme of development ensued. One of the main objectives was reliability - always a strong point on AMC machinery. The reason for the initial building of the 7R was to provide a good, steady and reliable racing machine that would be competitive for the clubman racer in the 350cc class. Its' success in this respect earned it the nickname of 'the Boy Racer'.

The road race engine and many of the frame parts were used by the Swede, Bill Nilsson to win the World Motocross (scramble) Championship in 1957 - the only time an overhead cam engine machine has achieved this.

The 7R is still used with some verve in todays Classic Racing.


The following text was provided by Bonhams Auctioneers relating to the sale of a G45 in October 2013

Introduced during the 1950s, the Matchless G45 gave the private entrant an opportunity to be involved in motorcycle Grand Prix events. In post-war racing the 350 7R AJS became one of the most popular of mounts for the aspiring TT rider.

For those who wished to graduate to the 500cc category, the option was generally restricted to the Manx Norton or for the more adventurous, perhaps the Grand Prix Triumph. With the release of the G45 to the private owner in 1953, the racing fraternity saw it as a worthy competitor to the Norton.

Its engine was a derivative of the G9 roadster; suitably modified. With such a pedigree for good-handling and reliability, it seemed to be the basis for a thoroughbred racer.

The G45 first appeared as a prototype at the 1951 Manx Grand Prix, where it was taken to a worthy 4th place behind three Nortons. The bike's first conspicuous victory was the 1952 Senior Manx Grand Prix. Soon the G45 began appearing at the Isle of Man and at mainland events, and by all accounts its performance was on a par with a standard Manx Norton.

At the 1953 Senior TT, eleven G45s went for the start and four reached the finish line, the following year brought a similar scenario, with 10 finishers from 14 starters.

In 1955 Matchless fielded an official works team for the Senior TT; with Derek Ennett registering the best-ever G45 result with his 6th place. Total production only ran to less than 100 examples; and in 1959 it was superseded by the 7R's bigger brother, the Matchless G50. The G45 is by far one of the most visually attractive race machines ever produced and is certainly a rare commodity in today's classic bike market.

G50 (500cc)

This further development of the 7R involved some major re-design, such as moving oil feeds from internal to external, a bigger bore, etc.

In the racing world it took over from the G45 twin, which although never very successful did have some good wins. Once again reliability was the AMC byword, which has been borne out over the years in both factory machines and the private and special builders fields. The G50 is still a force to be reckoned with in Classic Racing world-wide.


The following text was provided by Bonhams Auctioneers relating to the sale of a 1954 E95 in August 2011

While statistics show that the Norton is Britain's most successful post-War Grand Prix racing motorcycle, the country's first success in the modern era's World Championships was achieved by another marque with an equally illustrious racing history: AJS. And the machine that carried Les Graham to his, and AJS', first and only World Championship was, of course, the legendary Porcupine. And unlike the Nortons, the Porcupine is a totally unique design, owing nothing to the production models.

Conceived during the years of World War II, the Porcupine was originally designed with forced induction in mind. Supercharged multi-cylinder engines had begun to threaten the single's supremacy towards the end of the 1930s and, indeed, AJS themselves went down this road with their fearsome water-cooled V4. Fast yet difficult to handle, the latter had demonstrated that horsepower bought at the expense of excess bulk and weight was not the answer, so the designers' thoughts turned to a twin. Laying the cylinders horizontally with their heads facing forwards would ensure adequate cooling and a low center of gravity, while at the same time providing room for the blower above the unit construction gearbox. When FIM (the governing and sanctioning board of international racing) banned supercharging at the end of 1946, the design was too far advanced to be substantially altered, though the cylinder heads were revised to raise the compression ratio.

Typed E90, but dubbed "Porcupine" by the motorcycling press because of its distinctive spiked cylinder head finning, AJS' new challenger debuted at the 1947 Isle of Man TT piloted by Les Graham and Jock West, the pair finishing 9th and 14th respectively after a variety of problems. (By way of consolation, West's best lap was only three seconds down on the fastest and proved that the bike had promise.) Two years later, in 1949, the ultimate victory was achieved as Graham won 1st place in the inaugural Grand Prix World Championships astride the Porcupine, a win that was to become AJS' and Graham's only major title.

Many years later, AJS works rider Ted Frend the first rider to win a race on the bike recalled that carburation had been the bike's biggest problem, perhaps not surprising given that it had been designed for a supercharger, and over the years a bewildering number of different induction arrangements were tried. The bike was also bedeviled by magneto shaft failure the cause of Graham's retirement from the lead of the '49 Senior TT just when two minutes from the finish a problem that would not be solved until chain drive for the magneto was adopted on the revised E95 engine.

Introduced in 1952, the E95 engine had its cylinders tilted upwards at 45 degrees, an arrangement that called for a new frame, and featured a long underslung oil sump, and pressed-up crankshaft with one-piece connecting rods and roller big-ends in place of the E90's one-piece shaft and shell-type bearings. Another new addition to the AJS team for '52 was New Zealand star Rod Coleman. Coleman had first been given an E90 to try at the '51 Ulster GP, and followed that up with a strong showing at the Grand Prix Des Nations at Monza.

"In the race it was quite definitely faster than the Nortons and I had little problem getting past Geoff (Duke) and Ken (Kavanagh) with just three Gileras only a short distance ahead," Rod recalls in his book, The Colemans. "I did get with them and found again that the Porcupine was just as fast as the Gileras but was down a little on acceleration from the slower corners, but not by much. I was just beginning to think I had every chance of second place behind Milani when the motor stopped." The cause was yet another magneto shaft failure.

For 1954 Jack Williams took over the race team and the result of his brilliant development work was a much smoother, more reliable engine and a better handling bike. The E95 Porcupine and works 'tripleknocker' 7R3 gained new pannier-style fuel tanks, which extended down on either side of the engine thus lowering the centre of gravity and affording a measure of streamlining at the same time. A new second version frame lowered the bike still more. An AC fuel pump raised petrol to the carburetors, and a clever delivery system involved mechanics standing the bike on its rear wheel to prime the header tank for starting!

Bob McIntyre, Derek Farrant and Rod Coleman were the riders, the last providing the Porcupine with its best international results of the season, placing second in Ulster and winning the Swedish Grand Prix. Sadly, just when the E95 was at last proving its full potential, 1954 would prove to be the Porcupine's swansong year as AJS withdrew from direct involvement in Grand Prix racing at season's end. In total, just four complete E95 machines were built, plus one or two spare engines. With the exception of the Tom Arter machine, they were raced only by the works team and never offered for public sale.


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