Hand Built Wardill 4 Motorcycle Features SMITHS Speedometer
After a 91 year break, Wardill Motorcycle Company is back with a new hand build motorbike called the Wardill4. The new vintage motorcycle is based on an original design started over 100 years ago, but with a modern twist.
The new Wardill Motorcycles Company is based in Llantwit Fardre just outside Cardiff in South Wales. The founder is Mark Wardill, a direct descendant of (Henry) Ernest Wardill who originally started the Wardill Motor and Cycle Works in Carshalton, Surrey in 1903 and the great Grandson of James Percival (Percy) Wardill. The Wardill Motorcycle Company Ltd was founded in 1927 with brothers Ernest and Percy Wardill producing the Wardill Motorcycle with its revolutionary patented 'supercharged' two-stroke engine. This is believed to be the first supercharged two-stroke engine ever produced.
"The project was born when I started searching for one of the original Wardill motorcycles," explained Mark. "When this failed, I decided to build a modern version of the same 1920s motorbike, although I still haven't given up hope of finding one of the original bikes."
As the last Wardill motorcycle built in the 1920s was named the Wardill3, Mark has called his retro bike the Wardill4. The latest model uses a 250cc OHC engine which gives the rider a top speed of 90mph. However, it is the care and attention to detail that makes the Wardill4 Motorbike special. Each motorcycle is made to order and tailored to each buyer's specification. The motorbike is hand-made and finished in-house at their factory in South Wales.
"In the beginning all I had was a photograph," said Mark. "We knew the wheel diameter and used this to estimate all the other dimensions. From this we developed a set of drawings." Mark worked closely with a number of local engineering companies to convert this black and white photograph into a living and breathing classic motorcycle.
Wardill4 Motorcycle Design
The hand-made frame is constructed from T45 aviation strength steel. The girder forks feature the triangular form typical of those seen on 1920s motorcycles but redesigned to meet modern standards, this includes the addition of a suspension damper. The flat-topped fuel tank is 2mm aluminium hand-formed around a timber buck, but the coup-de-grace is the all steel-ridged frame meaning that the only suspension comes from the springs in the antique leather-covered seat. This results in a thrilling riding experience.
The sound of the engine is fantastic. There is a deep spluttered throb that automatically propels by-standers back to a by-gone age.
"We are two-years into the project," said Mark, "and are just applying the finishing touches. There has been a great deal of interest, especially from local people. Even as we were doing a photoshoot on the local common [Llantrisant Common] a passer-by just stopped and asked us if we were the company making classic motorbikes in the local area. Our aim is to be able to offer test rides in the next two-months."
SMITHS Instruments also has an incredible history dating back over 100 years. SMITHS gauges are designed and manufactured by Caerbont Automotive Instruments in Abercrave, South Wales, less than one hour from the Wardill Motorcycle Company premises. Therefore, it seemed appropriate that Wardill and CAI would work together in designing a modern Speedometer but with a special look and feel to compliment the Wardill4. The result was a silver bezzled, black-faced gauge with white numbers. The gauge face also features the 'Wardill' logo.
"From the outset, I wanted the motorbike to have a SMITHS speedometer," said Mark. "The SMITHS brand has such an incredible history that no other gauge would have been right. I didn't realise that the SMITHS gauges were made locally in South Wales [UK] by CAI which was an added bonus. When CAI sent over the first gauge design it only had the ‘Wardill’ logo. I immediately went back and asked them to add the SMITHS logo. I want this motorcycle to be as authentic as possible and felt it was important for people to see that the Speedometer is a SMITHS instrument."
In June 2019, Mark confirmed the placement of the first order for a new Wardill4 vintage motorcycle.
CAI has worked with many retro and cafe racer motorcycle producers designing modern gauges to reflect the appearance and styling of a 'modern' and often bespoke motorbike. For further information on the Wardill4 classic motorcycle project or to discuss gauges for any specific project, please contact us via:
Via our website
Phone: +44 1639 732200
All photographs taken by Paul Fears Photography
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Posted by Paul Fears on
10 June 2019 at 12:00 AM