simon.holyfield wrote:So what's the best way into black Ariels?
The FH is on the bench now, I might need a new project soon...
Simon, the very first place to start is to buy a copy of Dave's book --- I have all editions apart from the first one. Invaluable in my opinion and a great read. Probably the next decision is to decide which year you want....that may sound strange but things were changing fast at the end of the 1920s, so a 1930 model is very different from a 1928 one. Having owned 5 or 6 Black Ariels in the past, 1930 is my favourite year for many reasons --- and I still have a 1930 Model F which I would never part with but have also recently bought a 1928 Model B from the Netherlands (waiting to be restored once I get the 4G out of the way). Some people argue that "Black Ariels" extended into the early 1930s, so if you're OK with a 1931 model, you can probably save some money by buying a post-vintage Black Ariel.
Restoring a Black Ariel today is not too difficult....mainly due to the Slovakia Ariel Klub who specialise in these models. There is not much you cannot buy from them whether it be an original part or an expertly re-made part ... and their prices and service are excellent.
Prices for Black Ariels definitely seem to be on the up. During a house move in 2015, I stupidly sold a very tidy 1930 Model F for £8K....today, I'd probably have to pay closer to £10K. Back to your original question: I would try and buy a complete bike project...as I did with the 1928 Model B that I bought last year. This was a contact made via the Ariel FB group. Bought via photographs only but from a well known Ariel man in the Dutch Club and shipped to me via Chas Mortimer. I wouldn't normally buy a bike unseen, and I haven't had time to see whats inside the engine (!), but sometimes you have to take risks and I'm very pleased with the bike that arrived which I got at what I consider a bargain price.
Good luck....PM if you want more info. Black Ariels are my favourite Ariels...they are fun bikes.