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Motorworld’s newspaper № 31

A few years before the WWII, the Brough Superior company has suddenly switched from JAP to Matchless engines. Matchless was one of the earliest manufacturers of engines and a competitor to JAP. A flathead double-cylinder engine with 1000 cc displacement was chosen for the Brough Superior SS80 model, and the overhead engine – for the SS100. It is interesting that Matchless offered an own-produced motorcycle equipped with the same engine model. The price tag of a Brough Superior SS80 stated “£90”, and a Matchless Model X went at £60.

Brough Superior SS 100 from the «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

Brough Superior SS80 Special from the «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

In fact, the Matchless company was famous for its big twins since World War I. For a long time, Matchless motorcycles had been equipped with MAG or JAP engines. In 1923, Matchless has released the M/3S model equipped with an own-produced double-cylinder engine. By 1929, the family of the Matchless motorcycles had only original V-engines.

When Matchless refused to equip its motorcycles with third-party engines, it led to the creation of a remarkable engine. It was a 982 cc double-cylinder engine with a cylinder angle of 50 degrees. The capacity was 20 h.p. at 4,000 rpm. The first machine that got this engine was model X announced in 1929. In the very first advertising catalog, this machine was described as “the most beautiful motorcycle on the roads of Britain, with its branded double silencer and an elegant black and white petrol tank”.

In addition, Matchless released a sports model – X/R. It had an increased capacity of 26 h.p., an increased compression ratio (from 4.4:1 to 4.8:1), and nickel-plated cylinders.

In 1930, the sport model was upgraded (it got chrome-plated rims and an increased capacity) and got new designations – X/2 and X/R2. One year later, in 1931, sports models got X/3 and X/R3 prefixes. These models had a petrol tank of a new type and a four-speed gearbox.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 traveled halfway around the world and reached Great Britain. At that moment, Matchless has been actively promoting its new four-cylinder flagship, the Silver Hawk. Because of the bad economic situation, the development of the V-twin family took a backseat but didn’t stop.

Matchless Silver Hawk from the «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

A.J.S. 35/2 from the «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

In 1931, Matchless bought one of its major competitors – A.J.S. The manufacturing of A.J.S. motorcycles was moved from Wolverhampton to London. After the merger, the first motorcycle phased out of production was the 1000 cc A.J.S. Model 2, but, by 1933, this machine has returned with a new 1000 cc V-twin similar to the X model’s.

In 1938, Matchless merged with another motorcycle company, Sunbeam. The new Matchless became a holding company and got the name Associated Motor Cycles (AMC). By that time, Matchless turned into the largest engine brand in Britain. Matchless’ engines were used by Brough Superior, Calthorpe, Coventry Eagle, OEC, OK-Supreme, and even Morgan (cars).

During the 1930s, motorcycles of the V-twin family have been continuously upgraded. Because of the strong credit standing, Matchless successfully got over the crisis. However, the war made the company to sort out its priorities. As a result, one-cylinder Matchless G3L became one of the most widespread motorcycles of the WWII period.

Matchless X/3

Although model X was itemized in an advertising catalog 1940, only a few machines had left the conveyor in Woolwich. After the war, manufacturing wasn’t resumed. So 1940 was the last year of the glorious history of these British V-twins.

Manufacturer Matchless Motor Cycles (Colliers) Ltd, Great Britain
Years of manufacture 1929-1940
Quantity produced, units N/A
Price £ 60
Today’s value $ 4 907
Type V-twin
Engine capacity, cc 982
Bore and stroke, mm 85,5 х 85,5
Engine rating 20 hp at 4000 rpm
Sparking Magneto Lucas
Carburetor Amal
Battery 6 V
Clutch N/A
Transmission Sturmey Archer, 4-speed
Frame type Tubular
Front suspension Сoil suspension
Rear suspension Rigid
Brakes Drum type
Wheel size 3,50 х 26
Length, mm
2 200*
Width, mm
Height, mm
1 050*
Wheelbase, mm
1 422
Ground clearance, mm
Seat height, mm
Mass, kg
Gas tank size, l
Maximum speed, km/h
Range, km

* – Data from the results of the measurement of the “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov” exhibit.