1957 Ariel Square Four: A Factory Restoration

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Photo by Phillip Tooth
An 1957 Ariel Square Four.

Imagine what would happen today if you wrote to the service manager at Triumph, BMW or Honda and asked them to help with the complete refurbishment of a 5-year-old motorcycle you had just bought — and which had gone out of production three years previously.

You would probably get a polite reply directing you to your nearest dealer while your letter was filed in the “nuts and cranks” folder. But 50 years ago we lived in a different world, a world where the customer was king. Besides, the third owner of this 1,000cc 1957 4G MkII Ariel Square Four knew how to write a polite but incisive letter that got results — after all, he was the deputy news editor of the Financial Times in London, and he wasn’t averse to using the paper’s letterhead in his personal correspondence.

It’s all in the asking

That editor and owner of the bike was John Hay, who wrote directly to the service manager at Ariel Motors Limited, Selly Oak, Birmingham, England, in October of 1962, setting out his vision — he wanted to restore the 1957 “Squariel” he had just bought to showroom condition. The reply from Ariel’s Ernie Smith couldn’t have been more helpful. “Normally, spare parts must be channeled through our Dealer Organisation, but in view of the unusual circumstances, perhaps you will pay us a visit at the Motorcycle Show at Earls Court on 10-17 November, when perhaps you will have the opportunity to discuss the matter not only with me but with Mr. K.J. Whistance, our General Manager.” MC

Order the March/April 2014 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the  reborn Ariel Square Four. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.

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