1933 Matchless Othersilver hawk
Year of manufacture1933
Engine number33/B 1957
1933 Matchless 592cc Silver Hawk
Registration no. DW 8278
Frame no. 940
Engine no. 33/B 1957
'Barn find' condition
Last used in 1975
Offered for restoration
The early 1930s was a period of severe economic depression, yet the 1931 Motorcycle Show at Olympia, London witnessed the launch of not one but two four-cylinder models aimed at the very top of the market. The ultimate fates of the two newcomers would turn out to be very different however. Ariel's offering the Square Four would enjoy a lengthy production life lasting into the 1950s, whereas the rival Matchless Silver Hawk would be gone within four years.
Matchless had introduced another vee-engined model, the twin-cylinder Silver Arrow, the previous year, and the Silver Hawk's design shared many of the 'Arrow's features, most notably the narrow included angle of the cylinders: 26 degrees. Displacing a total of 592cc, the latter were contained within one casting and topped by a single 'head, just like the Arrow's, but the Hawk was intended to be a luxury sports-tourer and so enjoyed the advantages conferred by overhead-camshaft valve gear. Drive to the upstairs cam was by shaft and bevel gears, and there was no denying that the v-four Silver Hawk's was one impressive looking motor. The frame and cycle parts followed Silver Arrow lines, incorporating cantilever rear suspension broadly similar to that adopted later by Vincent-HRD. Expensive to make and introduced at the wrong time, the Silver Arrow failed to sell despite its mouth-watering specification and was quietly dropped in 1935.
An older restoration, this 'barn find' Silver Hawk was purchased in the mid-1970s from the Bristol area. The machine was in running condition at that time, participating in the West Wales Vintage Rally and Saundersfoot Run, the latter believed to be its last outing. A tax disc expiring in September 1975 is still attached. Offered for restoration (the engine turns over) this delightful discovery is offered with a V5C registration document. A non-standard gear lever support plate (manufactured by the owner) is the only notified deviation from factory specification.