Clive Pearson of Leicester, England, has spent the past 30 years putting together a collection of 30 unrestored Ariel Arrows motorcycles and Ariel parts. Now 68, he is offering it all up at the H&H Classics auction February 22 at Donington Park so he can continue another quest.
No, Pearson isn’t retiring from his passion for collecting. He’s simply selling his collection of Ariels to fund his effort to locate and restore a Kettenkrad, a German tracked motorbike.
According to H&H, Pearson restored such a bike in the past and wants to do it again. Because the treads on the Kettenkrad’s tank-style track are made of rubber, the vehicle is legal to drive on public roads in Europe.
“This is a unique collection,” Mark Bryan of the H&H motorcycle department said of the auction offerings. “Ariel stopped producing four-stroke singles in 1959 in order to compete with the Japanese motorbike invasion and produced two-stroke bikes, the Ariel 250 Leader and latterly the Arrow, Arrow Sport and Arrow 200. But the competition proved too stiff and they ceased trading in 1967.
“Ariel Motorcycles acquired an image and a level of respect that was perhaps greater than the number of bikes sold. But always robust and considered reliable for their time, they were well-rated machines of the period, as they are even more so today given the level of collecting interest.”
According to H&H, Pearson’s passion for the Ariel started when, against his parents’ wishes, he bought one for £10 because he was so taken with its “futuristic look.”
His ambition was always to own an Ariel Supersport Golden Arrow, which at the time cost £79 and 10 shillings, but his parents would not allow him to spend so much money. Years later, when his father was 90, he told Clive that having said no all those years ago, he would now relent and buy one for him; that bike remains Clive’s pride and joy and is not a part of the collection being sold.
A foundry pattern-maker by trade, Pearson’s knowledge of bike engines and structure is reported to be profound. He says that what he really loved about Ariels was their fantastic ability to corner, outperforming 650cc Triumphs easily around bends thanks to a leading link in the bike’s front forks.
After many years of collecting German WW2 machinery, included the kettenkrads, Pearson returned to his first love and built his collection of Ariels.
“I searched out those bikes that were going to be broken up for scrap and rebuilt them,” he told the auction house. “My idea was to save them for posterity.”
Asked why he was so keen on using the money raised by the sale of the Ariels for another Kettenkrad, he said: “In first gear they can pull down a house and in top gear they can do 50 mph. Once I pulled a 13-ton beer truck out of the mud at a festival with my Kettenkrad after a Land Rover made no headway. We ended up having free beer all weekend!”