After over a 90-year break, the Wardill Motorcycle Company is back with the new hand- built Wardill 4 motorcycle. The vintage motorcycle is based on an original design started over 100 years ago, but with a modern twist.
The new Wardill Motorcycles 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 two-stroke engine ever produced.
“The new Wardill4 motorcycle project began 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. I still haven’t given up hope.”
As the last Wardill motorcycle built in the 1920s was the Wardill 3, Mark has called the his retro bike the Wardill 4. 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 Wardill 4 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 a black and white photograph into a living and breathing classic motorcycle.
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 produced using precision laser cut steel. The flat-topped fuel tank is hand-formed and welded out of aluminium. And, 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 giving a thrilling riding experience.
And the sound of the engine is fantastic. There is a deep spluttered throb that automatically propels by-stands back to a by-gone age.
“We are a few years into the project,” said Mark, “and are continuously looking to make improvements. There has been a great deal of interest, especially from local people. We were doing a photoshoot on a local common and a guy 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 Wardill 4 Motorcycle. 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 Motorcycle 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.”
CAI has worked with many retro and café racer motorcycle producers designing modern gauges to reflect the appearance and styling of a ‘modern’ and often bespoke motorbike. For further information or to discuss a specific project, please contact us via:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +44 1639 732200
All photography by Paul Fears Photography
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