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After World War II the transportation starved public in the UK began snapping up surplus and civilianized military motorcycles. Most people could not afford a car and gasoline was rationed, so motorcycles were the transport of choice. Ariel motorcycles of 1946 were essentially pre-war models complete with girder forks and old style PA speedometers. The most visible difference was a smaller 6.5" headlight.
The end of the war and the end of military production meant that millions of returning soldiers sought jobs. The government of the UK, impoverished by war-time expenditures, pushed manufacturers to increase exports. In these austere times the Red Hunter singles became Ariel's best selling model, but many of the choicest production went overseas.
January 1945 ad anticipates the end of WWII Red Hunter advertising from May 1946 uses a recycled 1939 image
Ariel introduced their first telescopic front fork for the 1947 model year. Reportedly these were mostly fitted to the sporting Red Hunters and exported to bring foriegn currency into the UK. The United States became an important export market for British motorcycles. Many of the returning GIs had been introduced to the British motorcycles while stationed in Europe where nimble British bikes developed a reputation for more precise engineering than Harley or Indian. When the GIs returned home they bagan to buy British bikes, including Ariels, in large numbers. The demand for British bikes was so great that Indian put a light-weight parallel twin into production in an attempt to grab some of the market.
Advertising image for 1947 showing new telescopic fork Red Hunter with tele forks at a California Trials meet

Ariel Twin
A prototype of the first Ariel Twin was built late in the war. The Ariel twin, like all British parallel twins that came out after the war was an attempt to answer the phenomenonal success of the Edward Turner designed 'Speed Twin' that Triumph had put into production in 1937. The 500cc Ariel twin was first publicised in late 1946 but entered production as a 1948 model. Ariels were offered with two levels of trim and the twin was no exception - the Deluxe KG 500 and Red Hunter KH 500. Typically the Deluxe models had lower compression engines, larger all-weather fenders and were finished in black and chrome whereas the Red Hunter models had higher compression pistons, slimmer fenders and bright red paint on the tanks and wheels.
Ariel introduced a new swing arm frame in 1954. The KH was redesigned and a new 650cc twin named the FH Huntmaster was introduced. The Huntmaster featured a BSA A10-derived engine, but Burman gearbox and Ariel cycle parts. (Jack Sangster had sold Ariel to BSA in 1944 and as the years went by Ariel motorcycles shared more and more parts with BSAs.) A high performance version of the Ariel 650 was based around the BSA Rocket Goldstar engine and named the Cyclone. Perhaps the most famous owner of an Ariel Cyclone was Buddy Holly who bought one new in 1958. The story is that Holly and his bandmates decided to buy bikes after a successful tour. When the Harley dealer didn't take them seriously they went over to another shop that sold Ariels and Triumphs. Holly picked out the Cyclone and Joe Mauldin and Jerry Allison chose Triumphs.
Buying bikes with the Crickets - Holly on the right Holly's Cyclone in 1979

Square Four
After the end of the war Square Four advertising often emphasized power and acceleration with slogans such as "Whispering Wildfire" and "Rockets from a Standstill" - though by 1950 the four was considered much more of a tourer.
For 1953 the engine of the Sq4 was dramatically redesigned to increase heat dissapation. It became an all alloy engine with 4 exhaust pipes - one for each cylinder. This would become the final version of the Sq4 engine and was dubbed the 4G Mk II. Despite the investment in the engine, a swing arm version of the Square Four was never produced. The same Anstey link plunger frame introduced before WWII would remain standard until the end of production in 1958.
1953 Square Four in Wedgewood Blue Late model Square Four with headlight cowling

Ariel Colt
Ariel had built 250cc lightweight bikes through the 1930s, including a Red Hunter version, but the light bike did not re-enter production after the war. This changed when the 200cc Ariel LH Colt was introduced in 1954. It was essentially a BSA C11 restyled for sale by Ariel and continued in production until replaced by the Ariel Leader in 1958.

Leader and Arrow
In the mid 50's Val Page returned to Ariel and designed a radical new motorcycle that would become the Leader and Arrow models. The Leader was designed to appeal to a broad range of customers and for ease of manufacture. The Leader was launched in 1958, effectively ending production of four-stroke motorcycles at Selly Oak. The Leader featured a pressed-steel beam-type frame clothed in attractive bodywork and a windshield & leg shields. Its engine was a 250cc two-stroke parallel-twin with inclined cylinders. The Ariel Arrow was introduced in 1960 but discontinued in 1964. The 20hp Ariel Super Sports models were known as the Golden Arrow because of their unique color scheme. They were released in 1961 to broaden the appeal of the two-stroke twin.
Leader with fully enclosing bodywork Arrow with aftermarket colors and fairing
The Leader and Arrow models were hugely popular and a great success for Ariel and they stayed in production until 1965. By then BSA, the parent company of Ariel, was concentrating their efforts on competition from Japan and so the Ariels were never replaced. This was the end of Ariel motorcycles. BSA did attempt to market a 3-wheel moped as an Ariel in the early 70s, but it was an expensive failure.
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