Two Stroke Shop
Francis Barnett and James, based in Coventry and Greet, Birmingham respectively, had been makers of two-stroke motorcycles since the early 1900s.
For the greater part of that time, their collective range of models had all been powered by unit constructed engines designed and manufactured by the Villiers Engineering Company, a Wolverhampton-based firm who also supplied its products to several other motorcycle manufacturers.
Following the Second World War, during which both factories were extensively bombed, their survival as independent manufacturers was no longer practical
and amalgamation of the two companies into the AMC fold took place in 1947 and 1951 respectively.
The long-standing relationship with Villiers remained unaltered, although the engine supplier's sometimes dictatorial attitude had always annoyed both the small motorcycle companies.
This situation worsened following the takeover by AMC to such an extent that, in the mid-'50s, the directors decided to produce their own versions of the two-stroke engines, with the added advantage of utilising spare production facilities at the Plumstead factory.
The design of three all-new power units (of 175, 200 and 250cc capacity) was undertaken by Vincenzo Piatti, of the Italian scooter manufacturer known for
its novel, but breathtakingly ugly, Piatti scooters.
However, constrained by demands for cost cutting, rather than quality, the resulting designs were considered very conservative, if not dull.
Assembly of the power units took place on the third floor, behind the Tool Room Extension.
Several design failings and production problems soon resulted in the engines gaining such a strong reputation for unreliability that AMC were soon forced into the situation of sending some of their own engines to Villiers for modification.
By 1962, AMC had reverted back to using the more trustworthy Villiers engines in the Francis Barnett and James machines which, by this time were just badge-engineered versions of each other, as already were the AJS and Matchless bikes.
|Jack Perkins||Manager (+ Gearbox Shop)|