Villiers Starmaker Trials. 1965.


14. Villiers Starmaker Trials


It’s Starmaker’s in triplicate from now on. Starting a couple of years ago, with just one version of the famous 247cc competition unit, a scrambler, Villiers then first developed a road-racing variant.

For 1965, they added a Trials.

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Starmaker Trials left / Starmaker Scrambler right / 1965

Starmaker, so completing a family, which covers the three main branches of motorcycle sport.

Though similar in external appearance to the scrambles Starmaker, the new trials engine has very different innards, as might be expected in a unit designed for low speed tractability.

For instance, using a web type crankshaft instead of the full-circle internal flywheels reduces crankcase compression. Again the combustion chamber is sperical, where as the scrambler has a deeply recessed toroidal chamber.

The gearbox is wide-ratio, with internal reductions of 3.5, 2.08, 1.375 and 1 to 1.

Using a single Villiers S25 carburettor and a compression ratio of 8 to 1, the trials engine developes 15bhp at 5,500rpm, but its maximum torque is much lower down the rev range, at only 3,000rpm to give plenty of bottom end punch.

Proto-types were first used in the 1964 Scottish Six Days Trial, in the factory Cottons of the Lampkin brothers and Blackie Holden. All three won special first class awards.

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Peter Inchley / Villiers Starmaker Special / 1966

Developing the Villiers Starmaker Special, was necessarily a low budget effort, for by now Villiers were also experiencing a recession in their industrial engine market, which had long been their bread and butter, they had sold well over a million of these units.

In mid-1965, a proposed merger with the EHP Smith Engineering group came to nothing, and the company soldiered on in ever increasing difficulties.

Peter’s third place in the 1966 IOM TT 250cc Lightweight was a golden moment, less than a month later; the virtually moribund Villiers Company was taken over by Dennis Poore’s Manganese Bronze Holdings, soon to become Norton Villiers.

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Peter Inchley / Starmaker AJS /  July 1967

So now in 1966 Peter Inchley went with Villiers to Norton Villiers and would go on to develop the Starmaker 250cc engine from the Villiers Special, into the Starmaker AJS.

This was its public debut, the first new AJS produced by the Norton Villiers group and the first ever AJS racer to have a two-stroke engine. The production AJS ‘Double’ T road-racer was supposed to follow.

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The frame was built from Reynolds 531 tubing and was assembled at the Reynolds factory by Ken Sprayson, and this is when the story of the AJS Stormer really starts to take shape.

Through 1964 and 1965, the Starmakers engine development and testing was undertaken by Peter Inchley for Villiers, with Fluff Brown at the Cotton workshops, in Cotton frames, which were stengthened to cope with the vibration and torque created by this new engine.

The Starmaker was now fully tested but it was designed for Moto-cross, and now Norton Villiers were calling the tune and this scrambles engine would finally get its own frame.

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Peter Inchley was the expert road-racer, but Fluff Brown was the expert ‘Scrambler’.

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