A Classic British Motorcycle Marque Worth Remembering

For every resurrected motorcycle brand like BSA, there are just as many classics that are still sitting on the sidelines. In the United States, for example, there are historic brands like Henderson and Pierce-Arrow. And in the UK we have brands like Vincent and Velocet. But there’s also Matchless.

Matchless earned its reputation by winningraces.

Although no longer in existence, Matchless was one of the first motorcycle companies in Britain, reports Silodrome. The company was founded in 1899 and, like other British Triumph brands, began by making bicycles, according to Silodrome. But just eight years later, Matchless won the very first Isle of Man TT, reports RideApart. And he won again in 1909 and 1910 with two co-founders.

The success of the race was accompanied by commercial success. By the 1930s, Matchless had begun buying out some of its competitors, according to Silodrome. In the 1950s, it owned AJS, Norton and Sunbeam, which it combined into the umbrella company AMC, Rider reports. Sadly, AMC collapsed in 1967, and while Norton continued for a while, that was it for Matchless. But before that, the brand had released a number of popular bikes.

Matchless is perhaps best known for its single-cylinder engines like the G50, reports Motorcyclist. Introduced in 1958. The 496 cc G50 produces 51 horsepower, which is a lot for a 331 pound motorcycle at the time. It is sometimes called the Gold Racer because of its gold-painted magnesium carters and timing chain covers, reports Silodrome. And in 1984, Dave Roper became the first American to win the inaugural Isle of Man Historic TT, reports Motorcyclist.

In the ’50s and ’60s, incompatible bikes were also highly competitive motocross machines, according to Cycle World. One of the best was the 1951-1967 G80CS with CS, which stands for competition and suspension, reports Hagerty.

1961 Matchless G80CS | brings a trailer

It has a torque of 497 cc, a single-cylinder four-stroke engine, twin rear shocks, a telescopic fork and a frame that is stronger than standard, reports Silodrom. And the latest version of the G80 TCS Typhoon is equipped with an improved 596cc single-cylinder engine, reports Silodrome.

Matchless, however, also built a few twin cylinder engines. One of the most iconic is the Matchless G45 that won the 1952 Isle of Man TT, reports the Silodrome. It was one of the first road bikes, RideApart reports. And at the end of production in 1957, its 498cc two-cylinder engine produced 54 hp.

Bulk engines powered conventional automobiles, except motorcycles.

The name Matchless is not only found on their own bikes. The company was also one of Brough-Superior’s engine suppliers, according to Hagerty. He built the 1.0 litre V-twin that powered the SS100, the fastest motorcycle in the world at the time.

1933 Morgan 3-Wheeler Super Sport equipped with a Matchless V-Twin with trailer.

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Large engines are not only found on classic motorcycles. The original V-engine of the Morgan with three wheels is also from Matchless. Especially the latest Super Sport models, according to Hagerty.

Outside of racers, his bikes are relatively cheap.

Although the Matchless name disappeared in 1967, there has been an attempt to revive it. In 1987-1990. The G80 was more of an alternative, but as MCN reports, it can’t quite match its predecessors.

Matchless G45 1956 | bring a trailer

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But buying a classic Matchless bike doesn’t have to be expensive. Granted, race cars like the G45 and G50 can be expensive; the 1962 G50 sold at auction at Bonhams in September 2018 for $40,145. And older models, like the Model X, are priced the same, according to Bonhams. However, you can find good G80S or G80CS air conditioners for $5000 to $10,000 on Bring a Trailer or another auction site.

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