c1960 Matchless G3L 350cc 'Race Replica' Motorcycle
Founded by Henry Collier in 1891, Matchless Motor Cycles Ltd of London was one of Britain's pioneering motorcycle companies, building their first engine in 1899 and producing complete motorcycles just three years later. Both Henry Collier and his brother Charlie were successful racers - Charlie won the first ever TT in 1907 - and the Company was offering a range of bikes by the 1920s, from 250cc right up to 1000cc. With the takeover of the AJS concern in 1931 and, briefly, Sunbeam in 1937, a new group called Associated Motor Cycles was formed. Wartime production centred around a single model, the rugged 350cc G3, of which an estimated 80,000 saw active service. The only development of note was a switch to 'Teledraulic' telescopic front forks in 1941 and the revised model, known as the G3/L, remained in production once hostilities ceased. Post-war revisions kept the Matchless competitive, with bigger 7-inch brakes and revised front forks in 1948, followed by a new frame, hairpin valve springs and valve lifter in the cylinder head for 1949. Matchless continued making improvements to the long running G3 well in the Fifties, including a new Burman gearbox for 1952 (although several models reverted to a gearbox of AMC's own manufacture a few years later), new full-width front and rear hubs in 1954 and 1955 respectively, Girling shock absorbers and coil ignition with an alternator on road models in 1958. As racing resumed in the post-war period, Matchless introduced a trials version of the G3/L with increased ground clearance and stripped of any unnecessary weight. A new swing-arm frame was introduced in 1956, differing slightly from that used on road-going versions, while bigger valves and revised porting increased power from 1957. Motorcycles sporting the flying 'M' continue to enjoy a loyal following and they remain an excellent proposition for club runs or shows today.