Porkie Pine
Classic Bike|March 2017

It's far from a faithful replica of a real one, but AJS fan John Taylor's creation is a heartfelt evocation of the rare and elusive E95 Porcupine.

Phillip Tooth

The AJS E95 Porcupine isn’t a sight you see every day. Only four were built and such exotica doesn’t come cheap. In 2000, an E95 sold at auction for £157,700 and in 2011 Bonhams brokered the private sale of one for around $675,000 (£418,000).

In the face of such prodigious prices, AMC enthusiast John Taylor, a 67-year-old who still keeps himself busy constructing agricultural buildings in the Lincolnshire Wolds, took a different approach to acquiring such a machine. “I’ve got an AJS 7R, a Matchless G45 twin and a couple of G50 singles,” he begins. “I thought it would be nice to have a Porcupine as well, to complete the set. But I could never afford an original, so I decided to build a bike that looked like one instead.”

He’s just finished it, and I encountered it at a small club event 10 miles from John’s home. “I decided to bring it along to see how it goes,” he explained. It went alright, although the Porcupine lookalike was never going to challenge real sprint bikes over the quarter mile.

“It’s over-geared at the moment,” admits John. “I need to put a bigger sprocket on the back wheel to give it better acceleration – even at my age I want pick the front wheel up when I go over the Mountain at Cadwell!”

Once the sprint was finished, there was more time to talk to John at his farmhouse workshop. “After a long day’s work, building motorcycles is the best way to unwind,” he explains. “As soon as Emmerdalee comes on the telly, I say to my wife: ‘Right, love, I’m off up the workshop for a while...’”

Although he is clearly a big fan of AMC race bikes, he’s not just a collector. His son Andrew won the Classic Racing Motor Cycle Club’s 350cc and 500cc GP Singles Championship in 2011 and again in 2012, usually riding Manx Nortons prepared by sponsor Tony Dunnell. Meanwhile, John prepared the AJS and Matchless singles that took Andrew to several wins in the Lansdowne Classic Series for original-spec pre-1963 race bikes. “That nice Aussie chap Cameron Donald partnered Andrew on my G50 for the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy at Goodwood in 2011,” says John. “We had a problem with the bike on Saturday, but Cam won the race on Sunday!”

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