Owner’s Gallery

A big thank you to all Ariel 3 enthusiasts from around the world who have e-mailed or posted me pictures of their pride and joy. It’s been amazing the interest this long forgotten little trike has generated and we are very pleased to share some of the pictures with you here.  Keep them coming and we will happily add them to our website and museum.

Not all Ariel 3 owner make it to our museum by Ariel 3 but that is exactly what Colin Hope did – see the video below:

Meet the newest Ariel 3 to join our collection complete with a little bit of history from its previous owner. Thank you Lynne for this wonderful Ariel 3.

This Ariel 3 was owned by my mother, Mrs Freda Jones of Solihull. My father purchased it from Vale-Onslow in Birmingham for the princely sum of £127.95 in September 1971. It would have been cheaper than this, but he’d paid extra for the screen, mirror and basket! My mother chose her favourite colour of that time, olive-green. She proudly attached L-plates to it and ventured out on the roads. At almost 50 years of age, this was very brave. However, I think reality  then hit home. Although she kept the bike insured and taxed until 1975, Mum was not keen on the tilting sensation and after only a few trips to the shops, the bike was parked in the garage, never to move again. There it stayed until it made it’s final move in 2010 to it’s new home at the Ariel 3 Museum in Bristol, with a number of its peers.

Lynne McFarlane

Dave Diamond has donated his Ariel 3 from its home in Shetland to our Ariel 3 museum in Bristol. We are very grateful to Dave for donating his mum’s Ariel 3 to our museum and his wonderful story (below) about living with the bike. Dave’s Ariel 3 can be seen below in its original condition. The screen has been removed for transit but will be fitted back when the bike has been restored.

An Ariel 3 from Shetland

Special thanks to Jon and Colette Oliver from Shetland for delivering the bike to us in their Astra van. A trip of approximately 720 miles (220 miles on a ferry from Shetland to Aberdeen and then 500 miles from Aberdeen to Bristol).

“I want my own transport,” said my Mum, “I’m fed up of getting lifts and using buses…………………….”

And since there was no way we could afford two cars, and Mum wasn’t going to pass her car test anyway, we needed to think of something else.

I was a BSA apprentice at the time, and the Ariel 3 had just been introduced, with an employee discount, so the solution to the problem seemed obvious. Mum became the proud owner of WOJ 254J, supplied by Vale-Onslow.I went to collect the bike from Stratford Road, about six miles from home, and I wondered during that trip, how well Mum would get on with it. It was kinda bouncy, and kinda slow, and not a little scary in Birmingham traffic.

The 3 got used fairly regularly for the next while, it had the basket and cover, so shopping was done, and friends were visited. Until the day Mum decided to go over to Solihull………………and put one rear wheel down a pothole on the way.


She didn’t come to much harm, but she lost all confidence in the bike, and never rode it again.

At the time I, as an 18 year-old, was running a BSA M21 outfit, with lights powered by ‘The Prince of Darkness’ (Joe Lucas) so for the most part, I had no night-time transport. I had a girlfriend who lived about 15 miles away, so the Ariel was pressed into service to take me to Dorridge and back several times a week.
Did you know that an Ariel 3 will fit into the back of a 1968 Skoda Octavia van? I found that out several times on my way home when it would just stop, keep going for a little while on full choke, and then die altogether. Time to call out Dad and his Octavia……………again.
In retrospect, I suppose if I’d taken off the fuel filler, replaced it and tried again, it may well have re-started, but I didn’t work it out at the time, and poor ol’ Dad did a lot of night-time miles in those days.

During the final six months or so that BSA was operating, I was assigned to “excess stock disposal” and during a tour of a variety of stores in the Small Heath area, saw a huge number of small two-stroke motors on pallets – looking back, I guess they must have been part of the 20,000 rumoured to have been bought for Arial 3s.
I also recall standing on one of the canal bridges, between the factory and the BSA test track, watching 4 or 5 Ariel 3s being raced around the track by competition department staff, and seeing one of them tumble down the embankment, almost landing in the canal.
I also remember of two of the apprentices in my year, Pat Tomkinson (of Mead & Tomkinson, who raced BSA unit singles in the 60s & 70s) and Bob Tillotson, driving two Ariel 3s to either Southern France or Spain, the idea being that if the trip was a success, the factory would take credit, and if not, then “it didn’t happen”. They completed the trip, and only suffered punctures – no surprise there, then.
I saw an Ariel 3 in the factory, which had been fitted with 10-inch scooter wheels and tyres – it looked better than the standard one, but I suspect that it would have made the thing even more bouncy!

I moved to Shetland in 1979, and when my father passed away in 1986 I brought the bike up here. I didn’t change the log-book to the new-style one, because the bike wasn’t on the road, and wasn’t likely to be, so it’s been sitting in a shed for the last 21 years, being started about once every 7 years (or whenever I thought it needed it, whichever was sooner). It’s done a couple of ‘demonstration runs’ over the years, but the time has come for it to have a new home, where it’ll be appreciated, for once in it’s somewhat bleak life.

Dave Diamond,


From Australia – Sydney

To the best of my knowledge, there are only two of these thingies here in Australia.

I bought them back from the UK some 12 years or more ago, with assistance from Les Williams of Triumph fame (still have the photo his wife took of him and Harry sitting on them at his Kenilworth workshop before he crated them up to send them over).

I’m actually in the process of restoring one of them, these two photo’s are of the almost completed restoration. Have to restore basket and windscreen and then put on and job finished.

Bob Selby

From Australia – Brisbane




I purchased mine from a bike dealer in Melbourne as a “going concern” after it was advertised in Just Bikes magazine. I know that the dealership owner imported 2 from America and sold one to me and kept the other. I paid $1000, and purchased it mainly because I own a 1951KH 500 Twin Ariel, and knew that the 3’s were a bit rare in Australia.

As members of the old Historical Motor Cycle Club, we take the 3 to various rally’s that we attend- eg Bunya Mountains rally and Warwick district rally- they utilize the local showground’s as rally headquarters, so they are ideal for having a “hoot” on the Ariel3. That’s my wife Kaye in the photo.
John Hammond

We have just returned home from the 2008 National Ariel Rally at Canberra. About 100 bikes were in attendance. As well as my KH Twin, I happened to take the Ariel 3 with me to create a bit of interest in the model and give other members an opportunity to have a ride. Obviously with only a few in Australia, not many members have even seen one!

Would you believe that the Ariel 3 won the award for the best two- stroke at the rally. I must be honest and tell you that it was the only two- stroke there, but that should not detract from the achievement.

John Hammond




16 Responses to Owner’s Gallery

  1. Wendy says:

    Great web page. I’ve just bought one of these, never heard of it before but thought it looked like a fun little machine… If anybody knows anybody who can guide me through a restoration id love to know…

  2. John says:

    Hi, can anyone tell me were the frame number is on an arial 3, I have looked all over and can’t find one?

    • hi the frame numbr should be on a clear plastic sticker (white writing) on the left hadn side of the ehadstock tube as you sit on the bike, sadly being just a sticker they are frequently lost over the years

  3. Matt Barnett says:

    I have a nice Ariel 3 in Tennessee USA I am in need of the slide needle was lost by my mechanic.
    I have a new mechanic but not the critical part. Where can i find the part or a new carburator it is very difficult to find a replacement item. Any help would be appreciated. Also need a gas cap.

  4. Henry Lea says:

    Hi Folks I live in Lancashire and I have an Ariel 3 in my loft and I have lived here for over 26 years
    and I brought it with me when I moved in so I have owned it for about 30 years I was hoping to restore it sometime I wonder is there a record of how many were sold Harry.

  5. Like Wendy, I have recently become the owner of an Ariel 3. Lots of details about which I’d love some help, both for maintenance and restoration. Are there any users’ manuals? Don’t suppose Haynes got round to doing one…………?!
    Or is there a forum where Wendy and I and others can exchange information?
    Regards, Howard.

  6. dean says:

    ive just bought an arial 3 off the local scrapman for £50!! brilliant little thing but engine is in bits, i have managed to source a brand new one but its a bit pricey so i mite use another engine or electric motor, its a 1969 model. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0lhW4hHTs0

  7. John Wilson says:

    Love this site, now I want one to add to my Sinclair C5 and Piaggio MP3 fleet

  8. peter vine says:

    i used to own the bike reg number bed 27k bought from jack frodsham motorcycles warrington is it still out there? ive just bought one for restoration

  9. guys im hoping to start an air 3 page on facebook as it seems they are creeping up in popularity now,i bought my manual online for about 4 quid, its very comprehensive too

  10. Mac McKechnie says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I have just purchased two of these cheaply, with the hope of getting at least one of them on the road, – one is 1972 and one 1973 – Both have registration numbers on the trikes, but no documents. – Can anyone tell me where I can find a VIN No. – and what an “average” VIN number looks like – e.g. Is it a combination of letters and numbers etc.?
    Thanks everyone!

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