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Ultra Rare AJS Goes to Auction

by Richard Backus

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1954 AJS E95 Bonhams Sale 
1954 AJS E95 will be sold by Bonhams: Estimated sale price? A stunning $750,000. 

Only four 1954 AJS E95 race bikes were built, and one of them is going up for sale. International auction house Bonhams has announced it will auction off the 1954 AJS E95 currently in the possession of England’s National Motorcycle Museum during its two-day auction at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif., August 18-19.

“As far as motorcycles go, the Porcupine is at the very top,” says Bonhams CEO Malcolm Barber. “It is arguably the most beautiful, graceful and innovative racing motorcycle ever built, the perfect blend of technology and art. Comparisons are impossible but bikes of a similar caliber – rarity, significance and worth – could include a 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer, 1955 Moto Guzzi V8 or a mid-1960s RC Honda Grand Prix. This AJS is an utterly important machine whose appearance at auction cannot be underscored enough.”

Because the number of AJS “Porcupines” is so scarce (the term Porcupine was originally coined for the earlier E90 version, which had a distinctive spiked cylinder head that was substantially revised for the E95, but the name stuck), each machine is well known with all 1954 models being accounted for (most earlier Porcupines were scrapped by the factory). Until recently, this particular example had been on display for more than two decades, occupying pride of place at the world-famous National Motorcycle Museum in England, its engine having been overhauled by Team Obsolete Equippe. It is estimated to bring upwards of $750,000 at auction.

ajs 8 
One of the two 1954 AJS E95s currently in the collection of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Ala. Click here to read our article about this bike and to learn more about the E95's developement. 

The last Porcupine to sell at auction was under the hammer of Bonhams’ current CEO, Malcolm Barber. It was the non-works, privateer-raced Tom Arter E95 Porcupine and it sold, 11 years ago in 2000, for approximately $258,500 – a then British motorcycle world record. That bike and a companion E95 that we featured in the September/October 2010 issue are in the collection of the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum. With the significant increase in demand for historical and rare machines at the top of the market, the estimate of $750,000 for this particular Porcupine offered in August’s sale is, in most experts’ opinion, quite reasonable. – Richard Backus