Founded by Gordon Francis and Arthur Barnett in 1919, Francis-Barnett became part of Associated Motor Cycles in 1947 and was joined there in 1951 by James. The two marques’ model ranges became ever more similar until the transfer of Francis-Barnett production to the James factory in 1962 ushered in an era of unashamed ‘badge engineering’. Francis-Barnett concentrated on the production of lightweight two-strokes powered by Villiers engines at first, though from 1957 AMC’s own engine was fitted to many models.
Streamlining and enclosure were popular themes in the 1950s and 1960s, with the styling of many British lightweights showing signs of Italian influence. In the case of the Francis-Barnett Fulmar, there were clear traces of both the Aermacchi Chimera and Moto Guzzi Zigolo. Introduced for 1962, the Fulmar 88 represented a major departure from the Francis-Barnett norm, featuring a tubular spine frame, leading-link forks and pressed-steel tank/seat unit that formed the frame’s upper structure. The engine was AMC’s own 149cc single, manufactured by Villiers.