Nanny McPhee rides an Ariel

Coming out of our local cinema the other day there was a large display for the new Nanny McPhee movie, Nanny McPhee Returns (UK title is Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang). She is riding a green sidecar outfit with girder forks. I thought to myself “those forks look familiar”. Sure enough, it is a 350 Ariel W/NG motorbike. Non standard of course – standard ones can’t fly!

Nanny McPhee riding an Ariel W/NG motorbike

(July 19, 2009 - Photo by Bauer Griffin - from

Ariel committed all of their wartime production to the W/NG. The primary difference between the NG “De-Luxe” model and the sportier NH “Red Hunter” model was lower compression ratio with a nearly flat piston crown, cast iron flywheels instead of steel, and black paint instead of red. The W/NG differed from its clivilian forebear by the slight lengthening of the forks, and a simplified design on several other comonents. The tank top dash is not present – the speedometer is on the forks mounted by two pieces of bent strip metal and driven from the front wheel instead of from the gearbox. Internally the piston oil ring is replaced by a third compression ring.

Ariel W/NG motorcycle near Dunkirk WWII

Ariel W/NG motorcycle near Dunkirk WWII. From

The handlebar is solidly mounted to the fork eliminating the rubber mount. Almost all the chrome is gone. Many of the tanks have the indentation for the tank badge but no tag with screw holes to mount the badge. The footrests are all metal eliminating another rubber component. Additions included pannier brackets and a field stand.

I don’t think the sidecar would have been standard issue in the war years, but all Ariel frames come with sidecar mounting lugs standard, so that was probably added for the movie or post-war by the current owner. With only 17HP the 350cc Ariel engine would not make a great sidecar hauler, though it is possible they have upgraded that bike to a VH 500cc engine.

As a 350cc owner myself I have found the supply of NOS war surplus parts very handy. For a long time I was running on W/NG pistons as the world supply of oversize NH pistons had dried up, and my VB has a brand new set of W/NG forks on it.

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