Matchless Owners Club
North American Section
Editor's note: This document was originally written in early 1985. It has been revised to remove information that is no longer pertinent. Please remember that motorcycle shops mentioned may no longer be in existence. Wayne Woodruff, December 1999
As we all know, the markets for motorcycles in Britain and the United States have long been different. In American motorcycles are purchased for sport, and performance is the name of the game; in the UK, on the other hand, they have been traditionally used for basic transportation, making virtues of low cost and economical operation. Over the years AMC responded to this difference by selling in the U.S.A. some versions of the Matchless and AJS which never appeared on the domestic market--indeed, even the existence of some of these variants is unknown to British enthusiasts. While all AJS and Matchless motorcycles are desirable pieces of machinery, the US-only versions are especially attractive from a collector viewpoint. My purpose here is to provide a brief, non-technical rundown of the US market variants of which I am aware in the hopes that it will be of value to North American section members--including some who may not realize why their bikes don't look like those in the books!
G45/G9/G80 - In the mid-fifties Cooper Motors, the California-only Matchless importer, brought in a very few bikes consisting of the G45 road racing twin engine in the G9/G80 frame. Apparently the objective was to provide a machine for favored riders that would be more competitive in AMA racing than the standard or race-kitted G9 twin. Gearboxes with kickstart levers were fitted to conform to AMA requirements. The engines were simply stamped "G9/230 to 240", suggesting that no more than eleven of these machines ever existed.
This variant was brought to my attention by John McCoy of Britalia Motors in San Jose, California. While they are not now fitted, John says it came with rearsets and a tach drive.
Anyone fortunate enough to acquire one of these bikes should be able to obtain spares through standard sources, as both G45 and G9 parts appear to be available without too much difficulty.
G9B/20B - In 1954 and 1955 all AJS and Matchless twins imported into the United States were apparently the 55Occ "B" variants, easily identified by the letter B in the engine serial number after G9 or 20. The extra 50cc was obtained by the simple expedient of boring the cylinders out to 69mm compared to the 500cc bore of 66mm. An extra 3 horsepower, 32 versus 29 at 6800 rpm, was claimed for the modified twins. The driveside crankcase half was possibly different as well, as it has a different part number, but I have not been able to identify the difference. The "B" variants were offered in the standard "Clubman" or roadster version, but a "CS" version with 21" front wheels, alloy fenders, and other fittings from the CS singles was also available.
Hundreds of the B variants must have been brought into the US, and they are frequently encountered. I have lots of old sales and advertising literature showing this motorcycle, and also have a parts list supplement detailing the differences in it and the standard 500cc twin. When I was in Russell's in London last summer they had 550cc pistons and barrels on sale, but barrels could also be obtained by the simple expedient of boring out a 500cc barrel. Other parts should be available from standard sources.
TCS - This is the well known 600cc Typhoon single, imported in 1961 and 1962 to my certain knowledge, and maybe in other years as well. (I have heard that it was also available in 1959 and 1960.) The Typhoon was offered under both the AJS and Matchless labels in some years. The extra 100cc over the G80 or 18 CS models was obtained via a bore and stroke of 89mm X 96mm, versus 86mm X 85.5mm for the 500cc machine. The TCS also came with a 1 3/8" GP carburetor as standard equipment. While I have not seen a parts list, most parts other than the flywheels, carburetor, and presumably the cases appear to be as on the CS models. Russell's had flywheels when I visited them, and may be able to supply other parts as well.
The TCS was obviously quite popular in the United States and it is frequently encountered today. One has been pictured in the last two Accessory Marl/Domiracer vintage catalogues, fitted with a Concentric carburetor in place of the GP. Another may be viewed at Sterling Motors in St. Paul, Minnesota.
AMC-engined G15 - In 1962 and possibly 1963 AMC imported into the United States a 750cc version of the 650cc G12. This displacement was obtained by overboring the 72mm X 79.3mm G12 to 77mm. The 1962 version was visually identical to the 1962 G12 pictured on page 96 of Roy Bacon's AJS and Matchless: The Postwar Models. -- It was finished with an orange tank and white fenders. I do not know about the appearance of the 63 version, if in fact one was offered. I have heard production numbers quoted for this model ranging from 50 to 200. One of these has also been pictured in the Accessory Mart/Domiracer catalogues. Jim Hosking, of Hosking Accord, New York, has recently had one of these machines missing) for sale.
If in fact this model is identical to the G12 except for the not be much of a problem--except for pistons, about which information. Cycle Works, (with some parts bore, parts should I have no
G50CSR - In 1962 Matchless sold a limited number of motorcycles consisting of the 500cc G50 engine in the Matchless duplex frame, complete with lighting and other street equipment. It is usually asserted that AMC's objective was to qualify this model for desert racing. Initially this machine was publicized as the G50CS "?", and enthusiasts were asked to supply an appropriate name; it was later referred to as the "Golden Eagle" and the "G50CSR" in advertising. A test of this motorcycle in Cycle World for April, 1962 claimed a top speed of 121 miles per hour!
This machine must be quite rare today. Anyone fortunate enough to acquire a sample of this model should have little trouble with cycle parts, and engine parts also should not be too difficult due to the popularity of the G50 road racer.
I would be happy to hear from anyone who has corrections or additions to make to this rundown, and of course I'll also freely share such further information as I have on these motorcycles with anyone who is interested.
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