1938 Ariel 500cc Red Hunter
Registration no. GFC 933
Frame no. XG 745
Engine no. CE 247
During the mid and late 1930s Ariel's 350 and 500cc Red Hunter models enjoyed an excellent relationship amongst sporting enthusiasts, and fully justified too, for they were consistently near (or at the top of) the ohv single cylinder performance league. Not only that but Ariel's 7" brakes functioned as well as any equivalent road model, and their handling was regarded to be as good as or better than any rigid girder-forked machine produced elsewhere. Although it was company policy to avoid participating in the TT, the achievements of Ben Bickell at Brooklands, and Len Heath and his team mates in contemporary Observation Trials, ensured that the Selly Oak firm were well regarded in competition circles, always a helpful boost when it came to promoting their top-of-the-range road singles. In quoting from a Tester's Road Report from a 1937 edition of MotorCycling it records that the twin-port 500 model under evaluation gained a maximum speed of 62, 79, and 90 mph respectively, in the top three gears, and "...gave a steady ride, even over bumpy bends". Is it any wonder that the pre-war Red Hunter is so often compared to BSA's charismatic post war Gold Star?
The Red Hunter was purchased in 1992 by the vendor's late husband, a lifelong enthusiast who had owned, ridden, and worked on motorcycles since his teen years in the Fifties, whilst a long-serving organising member of a prominent Club in the south of England. But unfortunately, as can happen, the details of the Ariel's mechanical history over the last twenty years, and before that, are virtually non-existent, other than that it was used on ride-outs with fellow VMCC enthusiasts, having been specifically acquired as "a retirement project...for enjoyment purposes!" That it was already in a reasonable condition when bought is possibly confirmed by the fact its first MOT Certificate dates from April 1992, shortly after purchase. Since the owner's sad passing in 2011 the Ariel has been either 'turned' or started by a family member at frequent intervals. On the occasion of our photography visit it proved an easy starter, and ran crisply. The twin-port machine has a current Registration document, and is MOT'd until 2014. The spare parts accompanying the machine include an instrument type fuel tank, a gearbox, cylinder head, and silencer, together with some relevant literature, several spokes, plus miscellaneous nuts & bolts.
- The last MOT expired 2.04.2013. Since going to press we have been advised that frame number XG 745
started life with engine number CD 407 in a machine despatched to
Glanfield Lawrence in London in October 1937, while engine number CE
247 originated in frame number XG 5087, which went to S A Coles,
also in London, in October 1938. The gearbox was made in March 1950 and
is correct for the Smiths Chronometric speedometer currently fitted but
not for the original PA type.