Founded by Harry James in 1880 as a bicycle manufacturer in Birmingham, the first motorcycle, was a Minerva-powered machine produced in 1902.
In 1908 the first machine to be powered by James’s own engine followed, the ‘safety’, for the time this was a radical design, as the wheels sat on stub axles, much like a modern scooter. More orthodox designs followed, with two-stroke, sidevalve, overhead-valve, single-cylinder and twin-cylinder models featuring in the range before the end of the 1920s.
In 1914 the 4¼hp was launched, a single cylinder 600cc model in either three speed Model 6 or two-speed Model 5 versions, both of which featured fully enclosed chain drive. The singles’ model designations were carried over from 1913, although the engine had been enlarged from 557 to 598cc by means of an increased stroke.
This magnificent 4¼hp combination is supplied with its original registration number AA 4692, a buff logbook and a UK V5C incorrectly showing the date of registration as 1959 as this was the date the bike was acquired by the Hitchcock collection. A remarkable survivor the bike appears to be more or less complete.