1938 RUDGE ULSTER
Rudge-Whitworth was formed in 1894 after the cycle manufacturing company started by Wolverhampton publican Dan Rudge (died 1880) was acquired by Whitworth Cycles, but the company did not produce its first motorcycle, an F-head (overhead inlet, side exhaust) 499cc single, until 1911. Early competition success was achieved at Brooklands.
In 1912 the company developed the 21-speed Multi-gear belt and pulley transmission and by 1915 was producing a 1000cc motorcycle.
Post 1918 Rudge-Whitworth achieved considerable motorcycle racing success, particularly with Graham Walker (father of motorsport commentator Murray) claiming victory in the 1928 500cc Ulster Grand Prix. From then on the name ‘Ulster’ was given to Rudge’s performance ‘bikes. Graham Walker was appointed sale manager.
During the financial depression of the early 1930’s Rudge went into receivership, and in 1936 EMI (the Gramaphone Company) who were a major creditor took over and resurrected the Ulster, manufacturing moving to Hayes, Middlesex, in 1937. Production ended with the outbreak of the Second World War when EMI put their resources into electronic equipment for radar.
The Ulster was originally developed as a racing prototype the production model being a race replica. The engine size was a 499cc, four-valve, OHV single cylinder. The bike was advertised as ‘probably the fastest 500cc motorcycle in production’ at the time.
THE COLLECTION’S EXHIBIT
The Ulster on display is owned by a member of the Vehicle Collection team and is on loan to Shuttleworth. One member of the team has ridden the machine around the Isle of Man TT course and reports it to be ‘fast’, although it also has the habit of ‘kicking back’ on starting and needs to be treated with caution.
|Rudge-Whitworth, Coventry, England (Hayes, Middlesex, from 1937-39)
Single cyl, 499cc, four-valve OHV