My second road bike, which I rode on a regular basis when I was 18 – 19 years old was a 1941 Matchless G3L, a rigid-framed (no rear suspension) machine. It was truly a wonderful bike, a pure classic British single cylinder. With a capacity of 350 cc, it was never going to set the world alight in pure performance terms, but the engine was soft and tractable, low compression, I think it was 6.8:1 (so that it could run on the “pool” – low octane – petrol of the wartime period) and it had a long stroke and big flywheels, giving it similar power characteristics to a steam engine. You didn’t need to rev the bike much, it delivered usable power from right down at the bottom of the rev range, and would be happy to cruise at 50 to 60 miles an hour on the open road. It had magneto ignition, meaning that it generated its own electricity to make a spark (no battery required) and returned 60+ mpg without any problem. I really loved this motorcycle and travelled far and wide on it.
The bike came into my possession courtesy of my mother, who was working as a kennel maid at a racing greyhound kennels, the machine had been ‘rested’ propped up against some old shed round the back of the property. When I got it, it was crudely daubed in thick black paint over the original Army olive green. I pulled it all to pieces, overhauled the engine carburettor and magneto – this was pretty much just a cleanup job as everything was actually in very good condition apart from the ravages of age, the bike was, after all, already 32 years old in 1973. A fair age for a bike, or any motor vehicle for that matter.
OK, that’s plenty of mushy reminiscence from me. Now can you imagine my surprise when I came across this this photograph and attendant text in this January’s (2015) “Old Bike Mart”. I was blown away. I sold that bike for £90 I think, and it must have been in 1975 because that was the the date of the last tax disc – June 1975.
That’s 40 years ago since I sold it, more years than the age of the bike when I first owned it – and I thought that it was pretty ancient then! Well, of course I have written to the ‘OBM’ and hopefully they’ll put me in touch with the new owner, who coincidentally must live quite near to where I now live, which is a bit weird. I’ll update this blog if I do finally have a reunion with this long lost faithful servant.
In the meantime, here’s a picture of one of these bikes in rather nice original condition – from Bonhams auctioneers, no less. It seems to have sold for £4140.00 Wow!