Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225

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Lot 301
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four
Registration no. XVS 646 Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225

Sold for £ 25,300 (US$ 34,791) inc. premium
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner
1938 Ariel 997cc Square four
Registration no. XVS 646
Frame no. P1008
Engine no. DE225
Today there is nothing remotely unusual about a four cylinder motorcycle, but in the 1930s a motorcycle powered by four cylinders was true exotica. Only one such machine was exhibited at the 1937 Olympia Show: the Ariel Square Four, which "attracted an immense amount of attention" according to 'The MotorCycle'. Ownership of one of these "superbikes", over thirty years before the term was coined, set the rider apart from his fellow motorcyclists who were mostly still aboard singles. If the Brough Superior was the Rolls Royce of motorcycles, then surely the Ariel Square Four was the Bentley.

Edward Turner, relatively unknown at this time but later to become one of the giants of the British motorcycle industry, designed the original Square Four engine. His novel four cylinder 500cc overhead cam engine layout offered a number of advantages: it was extremely smooth, its compact dimensions allowed it to be fitted in the frame of the current Ariel 500cc single, and it allowed the use of conventional chain drive. The Square Four was one of the sensations of the 1930 Olympia Show. Subsequently it was enlarged to 600cc, but by the middle of the decade Ariels recognized that a more radical change was required. On the eve of the 1935 Show they revealed the new 1000cc Square Four. This was an entirely new design by Turner which featured many changes including duralumin pushrod operated valve gear, vertically split crankcases with dry sump oiling, one piece crankshafts, light alloy conrods, white metal plain bearings, and a rear mounted Solex carburettor. There were some development issues relating to lubrication of the valve gear and production commenced only in September 1936. The fantastic flexibility of the new engine was demonstrated by Freddie Clarke who rode a prototype 1000cc Square Four to Brooklands and there ran "ten mph to a hundred in top".

This particular Square Four was awarded one of the concours world's ultimate accolades when it scooped first prize in the Louis Vuitton Classic Concours at the Hurlingham Club in 1999. Proving that this was no fluke, a few years later, in 2008 it won the Square Four category at the Ariel Owners Club annual rally concours. The vendor, a pre-war Square Four expert, has owned this machine, nicknamed "Andromeda", for over twenty years. It is reluctantly offered for sale following the recent death of his mother. The sale of the parental home has resulted in a loss of storage space requiring a thinning out of his collection. Parting with it is slightly more bearable because he owns a second 1938 example, in similarly immaculate condition.

Following its acquisition in 1994 the machine was found wanting in a number of areas. The extremely able vendor embarked on the award winning comprehensive restoration which was to take three years and embraced every aspect of this magnificent machine. The cylinder block was linered and rebored to standard, genuine new old stock Hepolite 6.8:1 pistons were fitted, as well as a new camshaft & followers, tappet guide blocks, valves, valve guides, valve springs, & new rocker shafts to which the rockers were lapped. The gearbox was overhauled with new bearings. The gearing was raised with a new 26 tooth engine sprocket & 40 tooth clutch chainwheel. The result was found to be entirely satisfactory.

A rare find was the genuine new old stock Smiths 8 day clock which works perfectly, as well as the correct domed glass ammeter. The original and correct handlebars are fitted as is the correct QD rear wheel. The magneto was restored by Tony Stairs, that doyen of magneto men. Lewis & Templeton were responsible for the paintwork including the tanks, mudguards, chainguard, wheel rim centres etc. Other new old stock fitments were the correct MCR1 voltage regulator and the switchgear. The correct Lucas DC40 panel light is present as is the original Thapex tyre inflator. The domed glass headlamp is correct for 1938. The silencers were made to the works drawings with brass baffles handmade by the vendor.

The forks were re-bushed. New fork spindles, headrace bearings, and fork spring were fitted. The rare and correct offside front side stand is in place. The carburettor is the original Solex instrument fitted with the correct bi-starter mechanism. Stainless steel fasteners, each one made by the vendor, are fitted throughout. The perfectionist approach to this restoration is exemplified by the apparently insignificant grease nipples, all of which were specially made to the original pattern. It should be pointed out that the engine dates from 1939, the 1938 & 1939 engines being identical in every respect. An original slightly damaged Ariel Square Four sales brochure from 1937 is included with this lot. Although it is no longer a legal requirement, the Square Four was freshly MoT'd this February.

The writer of this piece was present when this motorcycle was purchased over twenty years ago and has known it ever since. It can truly be said that this Square Four is as good on the inside as it is on the outside.

Saleroom notices

  • This lot is offered with a V5C and an MOT until February 2016.
Contacts
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
Louis Vuitton Classic Concours Winner,1938 Ariel 997cc Square four Frame no. P1008 Engine no. DE225
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