1957 Matchless 'G45' Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. 148
For several years during Britain's post war boom market there were six different types of 500cc vertical twins in production, although Matchless and Triumph were the only manufacturers offering a twin for racing, both of which were produced in limited numbers. The G45 Matchless was a visually attractive machine from the outset, getting off to a fine start when Derek Farrant averaged over 88 mph to win the 1952 Senior Manx GP. Despite that the ohv G45 was acknowledged as "slightly delicate" in mechanical terms compared with, say, a Manx Norton, or AMC's own G50 [which came later], these fine-sounding twins were always regarded with great affection by racing enthusiasts.
After spotting an ad in the July 2004 issue of Jampot the vendor, who first raced back in the 1950s, bought and repatriated the G45 from Australia, where it had resided in two quite separate museums, nearly 3000 miles apart, for many years. The machine's Down Under history is sketchy, other than it was initially owned by a car & bike racer in Queensland, on display in his museum, but after he encountered financial difficulties it passed to another museum near Perth and, when that closed, by good fortune a Western Australia based friend of the present owner was at the head of the queue after said advertisement first appeared! Upon the arrival of the carefully crated machine the new owner had it stripped by an AMC specialist who, after pronouncing it generally sound, fitted new piston rings, bearing shells, and a reconditioned oil pump. Anxious to sample the bike on a track the owner then fitted new tyres, chains, and control cables, and the magneto was overhauled. Although of advancing years he galloped it enjoyably in his first session at the 2008 Festival of 1000 Bikes, only to suffer an oiled plug on the second run, due to fitting the incorrect grade. It has been located ever since, without further use, in his study.
The Matchless was built in 1984 by Martyn Ashwood, competent former competitor and inherently familiar with Plumstead's race machinery, equally well known for his involvement on the technical side with NGK. Having begun with an assortment of G45 parts, which in his words included, "frame, forks, engine, gearbox, oil tank, plus a box of bits", his target for the project was a late model G45, incorporating as many as possible of the improvements that the factory had incorporated in the model's 5-year lifespan. Martyn's lengthy schedule on file describes the build process in considerable detail. In essence the engine dates from 1953, whilst the frame and wheels are 1956. The fuel tank is from a 7R, prompting a modification to its under-side in order to clear the cambox. During a recent inspection of the G45 Martyn confirmed that his main suppliers were Russell Motors, George Beale, and Team Obsolete. After the build had concluded circumstances dictated that it was not raced, but subsequently sold to Len Haggis.
Offered with shipping and importation paperwork, and some UK supplier invoices dated 2008. This very handsome racer belies its rather mixed pedigree, and is worthy of detailed inspection.