c1941 Matchless G3L 350cc 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 and wartime production centred around a single model, the rugged 350cc G3, of which an estimated 80,000 saw active service. The air-cooled single had an iron head and barrel with split alloy crankcases, roller-bearing big end and gear driven cams. Fed by an Amal 275 carburettor, the engine had 5.9:1 compression, driving through a Burman four-speed foot-change gearbox with chain final drive. In 1941 Matchless announced a revised model built around a single front downtube frame and featuring AMC’s new ‘Teledraulic’ telescopic front forks, drawing heavily from a BMW design, the first of its kind fitted to any British motorcycle. The revised model, known as the G3/L (for light), remained in production once hostilities ceased and most were equipped with ribbed mudguards, metal tank badges, rubber bar and knee grips and panniers. The compact G3/L was still a solid, sturdy bike, capable of a top speed of around 70 mph, while stripped down version enjoyed some success in trials, both with works and amateur riders. Motorcycles sporting the flying ‘M’ continue to enjoy a loyal following and they remain an excellent proposition for club runs or shows today.