Unlike the vast majority of Britain’s motorcycle manufacturers, which were located in the Birmingham and Coventry areas, Matchless were based in Plumstead, South London. The name ‘Matchless’ first appeared in the 1890s on cycles manufactured by H H Collier, whose sons Charlie and Harry would later join him in the business. The firm’s first – experimental – motorcycle appeared in 1899 and its first production model in 1902. Already an accomplished cycle racer, Charlie Collier soon turned to racing Matchless motorcycles, as did his brother, and both Colliers would be on the start-line for the inaugural Isle of Man TT race in 1907, Charlie winning the event’s single-cylinder class.
These early Matchless models were JAP powered but in 1912 the firm introduced a 500cc single of its own design. Nevertheless, within a short time it had gone, along with all the other singles, and for the next several years Matchless built only v-twins. By 1913 there were no fewer than six different models on offer ranging from 3½hp to 8hp in nominal rating. These included twin-cylinder 8hp models, one of which was fitted with a Matchless engine (the 7B) and the other a proprietary MAG. The latter was typed ‘8B’and later would form the basis for the legendary Model H motorcycle combination.
Reluctant to remain reliant on outside suppliers, Matchless introduced a 982cc 50-degree v-twin engine of its own design for 1925, although it did bear a strong resemblance to the contemporary JAP. This new engine went into the M/3S ‘Sports Solo’ model, which replaced the JAP-powered M/2.
The current vendor first saw this rare v-twin Matchless in 1974 and bought it in 1997; the machine was then totally restored between 2002 and 2004. Works carried out included re-bushing the forks and fitting new spindles; rebuilding the wheels; sourcing a new fuel tank; overhauling the engine (new pistons, bearings, etc); and restoring the oil pump, while the magneto was rewound in December 2018. Last run in October 2019, this beautifully restored Vintage-era Matchless is offered with an old-style logbook and a V5C Registration Certificate.
Report by bonhams.com