First used on a de Dion-engined trike in 1898. Known best for their motorcycles, Ariel have also produced cars, trikes, quads, delivery and military vehicles over the past 100 years.
Ariel is a British automobile manufacturer in Somerset, known for its high performance car, the Ariel Atom. Ariel previously was a British bicycle, motorcycle and automobile manufacturer in Birmingham.
Ariel was established by James Staley and William Hillman in 1870. The first products were penny-farthing bicycles under the Ariel name. By 1896 they had started on motorised transports.
The first Ariel Tricycle was used a 2.25 hp De Dion engine mounted at the rear. More tricycles and quadricycles were produced and Ariel then moved into car production.
Cars were produced over two periods: from 1900 to 1915, and again from 1922 to 1925. The first Ariel car was a 10 hp (7.5 kW) twin-cylinder car produced in 1902. In 1903, their first four-cylinder was a 16 hp (11.9 kW) model. Both, these vehicles had a leather cone clutch that entirely separate from the flywheel. A six-cylinder model, built on a seemingly inadequate tube-frame chassis, entered production early in 1904.
An entirely new range was announced at the end of 1905; called the "Aero-Simplex", these cars were Mercedes-inspired four-cylinder designs of 15 hp (11.2 kW) and 25/30 hp (18.6/22.4 kW) and a six of 35/40 hp (26/30 kW).
In 1907-08 the company began production of the monstrous 50/60 hp (37/45 kW) six, which offered a engine of 15.9 litres for a chassis price of £950. In 1907 Ariel sold its Bournbrook, Birmingham factory to the British Lorraine-Dietrich, and thereafter assembled its cars at the Coventry Ordnance Works. Production of a 1.3 litre light car was quashed by the outbreak of World War I.
After 1918 the company tried one last, abortive attempt to cash in on the small car market; the Ariel Nine featured a flat-twin air-cooled engine, and was built by A. Harper Sons and Bean.
In 1944 Ariel became part of the BSA group.
The last Ariel was in the 1970's The "Ariel 3" was a 3-wheeler 50cc 2-stroke moped different from other mopeds at the time not just for having 3-wheels but because it was a tilting vehicle. The front half of the moped was hinged to the rear and so it could tilt into corners whilst keeping all 3-wheels on the ground. Production of the Ariel 3 was short and the moped was dropped along with the Ariel name shortly afterwards.
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