Price-Winning Combination: 1933 Matchless Silver Hawk

Reviewing the v-four Silver Hawk at its launch in the autumn of 1930, Motor Cycling stated that this exciting overhead-camshaft model was ‘designed primarily to give really high speed, and to give this speed with silence and the added safety of a spring frame’.

Matchless had introduced the Silver Arrow v-twin the previous year, and the Silver Hawk shared many of its features, most notably the narrow included angle of the cylinders: 26 degrees. Displacing a total of 592cc, the cylinders were contained within one casting and topped by a single ‘head, just like the Arrow’s, but the Hawk was intended to be a luxury sports-tourer and so enjoyed the advantages conferred by overhead-camshaft valve gear. Drive to the camshaft was by shaft and bevel gears, and there was no denying that the Silver Hawk’s was one impressive looking motor. The frame and cycle parts followed Silver Arrow lines, incorporating cantilever rear suspension broadly similar to that adopted later by Vincent-HRD. Expensive to make and introduced at the wrong time, the Silver Arrow failed to sell despite its mouth-watering specification and was quietly dropped in 1935.

This Silver Hawk was first registered as ‘ALM 52’ in London on 22nd July 1933. Its life from 1936 onwards was in East Sussex, mainly in the Lewes area where Gerald Holmes Bickers was the last person to tax it in 1956. In 1975, the Matchless was offered to a friend of the current owner. The friend was only interested in the registration number, which he kept, while the current owner purchased the motorcycle and reregistered it as ‘9965 AP’.

During the restoration’s early years, the main activity was sourcing missing items, including the fuel tank and the unique-to-the-Hawk dynamo/coil/distributor. Progress continued slowly until 2009 when the current owner decided he needed to seek help. He also realised that, due to advancing years, he was no longer strong enough to handle the Matchless as a solo and decided to utilise the special Hawk/Arrow sidecar chassis he owned. Following much research, the vendor believes that this is likely to be the sole surviving Hawk/Arrow sidecar chassis. Using a circa 1930 Matchless No. 1 sidecar body as a pattern, he created the replica body which is fitted to the chassis.

The restoration was finished in time for the 2017 International West Kent Run, held at Aylesford Priory at the beginning of August. The restored Silver Hawk returned to the road just three days before the Run and started the event, being awarded 1st Prize in its category.
Accompanying documentation consists of sundry restoration invoices, and old-style logbook, and a V5C Registration Certificate.

Learn more about the bike here.

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