1932 Matchless Other
Year of manufacture1932
Engine numberA2 2183
1932 Matchless 394cc Silver Arrow
Frame no. 2054
Engine no. A2 2183
Technologically interesting narrow-angle v-twin
One of fewer than 2,000 made
Incomplete and offered for restoration
Unlike the vast majority of Britain's motorcycle manufacturers, which were located in the Birmingham and Coventry areas, Matchless were based in Plumstead, South London. The name 'Matchless' first appeared in the 1890s on cycles manufactured by H H Collier, whose sons Charlie and Harry would later join him in the business. The firm's first - experimental - motorcycle appeared in 1899 and its first production model in 1902. Already an accomplished cycle racer, Charlie Collier soon turned to racing Matchless motorcycles, as did his brother, and both Colliers would be on the start-line for the inaugural Isle of Man TT race in 1907, Charlie winning the event's single-cylinder class. These early Matchlesses were JAP powered but in 1912 the firm introduced a 500cc single of its own design. Nevertheless, within a short time it had gone, along with all the other singles, and for the next several years Matchless built only v-twins. Single-cylinder models were reintroduced after WWI.
By the early 1930s Matchless had no fewer than three different vee-engined machines in the range: models 'X', 'A' and 'B', the latter pair being better known as the Silver Arrow and Silver Hawk respectively. Introduced for the 1930 season, the 394cc Silver Arrow looked like a single cylinder machine but was in fact a narrow-angle (26-degree) sidevalve v-twin, the closely spaced cylinders being contained within one casting topped by a single cylinder head. Its engine aside, the Silver Arrow was conventional enough, though linked brakes and a sprung frame were features found on few rivals. A switch from a three-speed to a four-speed gearbox at the end of 1930 was the only one significant upgrade made during the model's lifetime. Like many advanced designs before and since, it failed to fire the imagination of enthusiasts with sporting pretensions; sales were disappointing, fewer than 2,000 being sold in the four years of production. Today the Matchless Silver Arrow is both rare and sought after.
It is not known where this example was delivered new, though the accompanying registration document, dated December 1948, shows that it was registered in the Netherlands at that time. Presented in a distressed and incomplete state, the machine is offered for restoration and sold strictly as viewed.