1956 Matchless 498cc G45 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 945 198 Engine no. 945 198

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Lot 861
1956 Matchless 498cc G45 Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 945 198 Engine no. 945 198

Sold for US$ 50,310 inc. premium
1956 Matchless 498cc G45 Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 945 198
Engine no. 945 198
One of the oldest of British motorcycle manufacturers, Matchless pursued a vigorous competition policy in its early years, founder’s son Charlie Collier winning the inaugural Isle of Man TT (single-cylinder) race of 1907 and repeating the feat in 1910, brother Harry having brought home the honors in 1909. However, by the 1930s Matchless had ceased to be thought of as a racing marque, and after WWII the firm, by now reconstituted as Associated Motor Cycles having acquired AJS, chose the latter’s badge for its competition machines. In this context the arrival of a new Matchless racing motorcycle in 1951 caused something of a stir.

The prototype of what would become the G45 first appeared at the ’51 Manx Grand Prix with Robin Sherry in the saddle, eventually finishing 4th after a promising debut. In fact the machine was not an entirely new design but a hybrid comprised of AJS 7R-based cycle parts into which was installed a tuned Matchless G9 roadster engine. The engine’s bottom-end remained more-or-less stock G9 and retained AMC’s unique center-bearing crankshaft, but above the crankcase there was a new aluminum-alloy cylinder barrel and ’head, the latter sporting distinctively finned exhaust rocker boxes. Fuel was supplied by a single Amal TT carburetor and exhausted via short, megaphone-ended pipes.

In 1952 the prototype G45 garnered much valuable publicity and not a little controversy when Derek Farrant - later an AJS works rider on both Porcupine and 7R3 - won the Senior Manx Grand Prix after leading from start to finish. Strictly speaking, a works prototype had no business running in an event for amateurs riding over-the-counter machines, but AMC quickly announced that a production G45 would be available for 1953. Although still based on that of the G9, the production version’s engine incorporated a different camshaft opening the valves via roller-ended followers, and breathed via a pair of Amal GP carburetors mounted either side of a central float chamber. Claimed power output was 48bhp at 7,200rpm, increasing on later models to 54bhp at 7,400 revs.

Apart from revised valvegear and the adoption of a forged crankshaft, the G45 changed little over the course of its life, and what developments there were did not keep pace with the opposition. Production ceased in 1957 after around 80 machines had been built, of which approximately half are thought to survive worldwide today.

This wonderful Matchless G45 was last ridden as part of a classic racer demonstration at the old Kyalami Grand Prix circuit in South Africa. Its original owner A di Bon rode the machine in the four-lap event at the South African Motorcycle Festival, which marked the closure of the circuit before its reconstruction. This motorcycle has extensive racing history in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). We are advised that it was restored in South Africa in 1991, followed by a further cosmetic restoration in 2005 including a few upgrades. As can be seen from the pictures, the machine is in original condition and perfect in every respect. It has been carefully stored and the motor turned over monthly.

This motorcycle is supplied with an old original crate containing the following very rare and desirable spare G45 engine parts: crankshaft with shrunk on webs; oil pump; valves; rocker spindles; piston rings; cam followers; clutch; racing camshafts (pair); and high-compression pistons. Also included is a folder containing pictures showing the motorcycle being ridden, and before and after restoration. In addition, the machine comes with owner’s and service manuals and Certificate of Title. A rare opportunity to acquire one of the most beautiful and desirable British racing motorcycles ever made.

Saleroom notices

  • The correct engine and frame number for lot 861, a 1956 Matchless 498cc G45 Racing Motorcycle, is G45 198.
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