1-29-17 Update: 2 years later, this G45 is back up for sale. Bidding is up to $10,000 with the reserve not yet met
1-14-15 Update: Though it did not sell for a BIN of $55,000 last time, this G45 is back up for sale with a BIN of $58,000 or best offer
Post-Listing Update: This Matchless G45 got up to $28,600 after 13 bids on eBay, but that wasn’t enough to meet reserve.
Founded in 1891, Matchless was one of the most well established names in motorcycling for several decades. After aligning with AJS in 1938, the two companies went on to produce many twin bikes under separate names. In the early 20th century, Matchless had great success in motorcycle racing, but it had fallen to the wayside as the company focused on touring machines post World War I. So in 1952, the company announced it was adding a 500cc road-racer to their model range. Enter the Matchless G45.
The 500cc power plant was based on the engine from the G9, with gear-driven cams and separate cylinder barrels/heads – you could actually strip down one half of the engine completely independent of the other. A 4-speed transmission and chain drive got power to the rear wheel, and performance was reportedly on par with the Manx Norton of the time. A twin of the AJS 10R, the G45 unfortunately ended up earning itself a reputation for poor reliability in racing situations – in the 1953 Senior TT, 11 G45s started the race, and only 4 completed it. With less than 100 produced, this is a rare bird, but I do believe it’s one of the prettiest motorcycles to ever come out of the 50’s.
This specific Matchless G45 (engine # G/9 230, frame # RTC856) was purchased in horrible shape from Virgil Elings, one of my favorite gearheads. He owns and runs the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, which apparently has a G45 for show. Today’s featured example seems to have a true G45 engine in the frame of a G90 – hopefully someone more knowledgeable about 50s Matchless’ will be able to chime in here. The bike won Best of Show at Del Mar 10 years ago, and many of the parts of new or rebuilt.
Find this Matchless G45 for sale in Camano Island, Washington with bidding up to $7,600 and the reserve not yet met (and a BIN price of $55,000)
Note that another G45 sold for about $37,900 14 months ago through a Bonham’s auction.