5 June 2003
This lot is offered without a reserve
1939 MATCHLESS 350 MOTORCYCLE
Former UK Registration No. HWL 919
Frame No. 32034131
Black with polished tank and black saddle
Engine: single cylinder, twin port, twin exhaust, 350cc.; Gearshift: three-speed; Suspension: single spring front, girder frame rear; Brakes: rear wheel drum.
Matchless Motorcycles, one of the oldest of British motorcycle manufacturers, was started in 1901 by Harry Collier and his sons Harry and Charlie. Apart from making machines, they also campaigned them in races. In fact it was the Colliers who were responsible for the famous Isle of Man TT race after they were appalled by the antics of the Austrian Cup race organizers in 1906. They initially used JAP and MAG engines, but by the end of the Great War they were making their own units and the company prospered without ever being too dynamic. In 1931 they successfully bought control of the ailing AJS company and thereafter shared components in all but the racing machines, an early example of motor industry rationalization.
This example was formerly in the extensive Rusty Kay motorcycle collection in California. The original UK registration letters HWL confirm that the motorcycle was first registered in April or May 1939 to Oxford County Borough Council. Apparently the bike was due to be displayed on the Matchless stand at the 1939 Earls Court Show but this was cancelled with the outbreak of hostilities. After the war it was used on an English estate as regular transport until 1986 when Mr. Kay purchased it and imported it to the US (there is a confirming letter on file to this extent). The machine still sports a UK tax disc from 1986. Today it is described as being all original and unrestored. Intriguingly it has a dual-port head with updraft exhausts and we are given to understand that this would define it to be an SS sport model, in which case it is a very rare machine. Classic bikes such as this have a huge following nowadays and there are plenty of specialist shops available for parts and advice, as well as owner's clubs who organize regular meets and events.
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This lot is offered without reserve.
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