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Old 26th November 2009, 11:52   #1
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Question 1951 Matchless for sale - Should I buy or not?

Hello all,

I am informed that there is a Matchless 1951 model for sale in Hyderabad. I am yet to check out the bike and will probably do so this weekend. However, prior to this, I thought it would be good to get the views of the vintage bike community here.

I have received a picture of the bike and putting it here for your consideration. The things I am looking at your views are:

(i) I am informed that this is a 350cc single bore (probably 3GL model). Could someone confirm the model of this bike and what are the modifications that you can see from the original - I can see the 'M' logos are missing on the tank and the oil/fuel filter, the seats may need to be redone (normally in line / fused with the tank)

(ii) where does one procure spares for such bikes and will there be too much maintenance? If yes, can a typical bullet mechanic look into it (the machinery seems to be quite simple to understand once you get the hang of it)

(iii) what is the ride experience on this as against the Bullet? I will of course be taking a drive on the weekend to see for myself, but any user experiences before that will be very helpful.

(iv) what would you realistically peg the value of this bike at? It seems to be a clean bike in running condition and the owner is asking for 75k. One person I spoke to mentioned that this price did not seem unreasonable and if he settles at 60k that is good. I spoke with Sudhakar the mechanic here in Hyderabad (of Bullet fame) and he feels that AJS and Matchless do not have much demand as against the Norton, Triumph, etc. Having said that he mentioned that the going price for 1950's Matchless would be around 35-40k (though he does not know of any bikes currently).

(v) what are the things to look for in this bike before buying it, so that I don't end up with a lemon. The diligence on papers aside, will the fact that bullet parts (like carb, clutch, brake) may have been used affect the price / condition of the bike. I would like something which is completely original in most aspects. This will be very helpful for other newbies who are getting into such purchases.

And of course, it goes without saying that if I am not picking it up, I will be happy to share the lead on this one with any other interested members.

Now please help me decide guys. Looking forward to your inputs.

Cheers,
Spyder
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Old 26th November 2009, 12:49   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
I am informed that there is a Matchless 1951 model for sale in Hyderabad......

(iv) what would you realistically peg the value of this bike at? It seems to be a clean bike in running condition and the owner is asking for 75k.
Well, the value of such Vintage items is determined by how much YOU are willing to pay for it. Rare, that they are, there is no pre-defined market pricing for these beauties unlike with a Bullet or a Jawa which are a bit more common and for which you can find a more-or-less going market rate based on the year and condition by asking around a bit.

So, basically, the value lies in the eye of the purchaser.

Something I usually do for such rare items is to check eBay (UK in this case) for current and closed auctions for an item of similar vintage, then discount the average price by about 50% or more (to compensate for the lack of market, parts & service and general enthusiasm for vintage vehicles in India) and you get an idea about the bike's value.

Sorry if I was not of much help.
Cheers.
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Old 26th November 2009, 14:28   #3
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My thoughts:

Check if the papers are clean and if the bike is in similar condition to what is shown in the picture than the best buy would not be more than 60K. Ideally I would say something between 40K-60K.

I felt that the ride on the Match was pretty different considering it's handling, weight etc though it functions just as a Bull. The one I tried had some tappet issues, it was making a lot of noise so cannot comment about the engine.

About spares, if you are looking for original you will have to find out some old Match from the scrapyard, you can get parts from there. Otherwise not all Bull parts fit on the Match though they look similar.

I also see monograms are missing and I think the silencer fitted is of a Bull 500. Please get some more pictures to check further.
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Old 26th November 2009, 14:35   #4
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I'd say if its not original and has a lot of replaced Bullet parts, then its not worth 75k. See the parts that definitely needs replacement (eg tyres, etc) and cut the cost down.

Found these pictures of a 1951 Matchless 3GL in girishpv's garage. Thought it'd probably help you.





And another one:

Name:  7842.jpg
Views: 17322
Size:  76.6 KB

More pictures here:
matchless g3l gallery Classic Images - Classic Motorbikes

Do you have any more high resolution pictures?!

Last edited by Gordon : 26th November 2009 at 14:44.
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Old 26th November 2009, 18:55   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
Hello all,

I am informed that there is a Matchless 1951 model for sale in Hyderabad. I am looking at your views:

(i) I am informed that this is a 350cc single bore (probably 3GL model). Could someone confirm the model of this bike
The model seems to be correct.

(ii) where does one procure spares for such bikes and will there be too much maintenance? Spares are available in Delhi, Mumbai and possibly other large cities with specialist dealersIf yes, can a typical bullet mechanic look into it (the machinery seems to be quite simple to understand once you get the hang of it)

(iii) what is the ride experience on this as against the Bullet?
The ride quality is soft.
(iv) what would you realistically peg the value of this bike at?
Around 35-40k.

(v) what are the things to look for in this bike before buying it, so that I don't end up with a lemon. The diligence on papers aside, will the fact that bullet parts (like carb, clutch, brake) may have been used affect the price / condition of the bike. I would like something which is completely original in most aspects. This will be very helpful for other newbies who are getting into such purchases.
Apart from engine and cycle parts, a period Smith's speedometer and magneto and dynamo in good condition. If these are suspect, the value goes down by Rs. 10,000.

Among 350 cc single cylinder models of British bikes, Velocettes are rare and high value, followed by Nortons. BSA B31s, thogh common, have a good following and command better prices. Rigid framed B31s are rare and costly, followed by swing arm models. AJS models command better prices than Matchless. These are my thoughts. Regards.
veloce

Last edited by Technocrat : 26th November 2009 at 20:01. Reason: Fixed Quotes & removed extra formatting.
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Old 27th November 2009, 01:40   #6
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Spyder:

Let me try to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge (pretty limited).

1. This is the G3LS commonly known as the Jampot because the rear shocks resembled a jam pot. It is a single cylinder, 350 cc, 4 stroke, OHV, 15 HP motorcycle. The year you have mentioned corresponds to the vehicle in the picture going by the engine and wheels. These were one of the first batches as they shared the same engine and wheels as that of the G3L. The later G3LS engine had the SR magneto (placed in front of the cylinder) and the brake drums were the bigger fuller ones. The decals and badges are easily available over the net. The single seats came with the military models and the full seats for the civilian ones (not very sure about this).
2. Spares: This is one of the brits that parts are easier procrued than most other bikes. It shared many parts with the AJS and also Matchless and AJS singles are one of the more common bikes in India. Although it is easier to get, you cant walk into a shop and get it over the counter. Make some contacts (especially in Delhi and Hyderabad) and pick up wear and tear spares when available. A typical bullet mechanic might be able to do small odd jobs like changing cables, etc., but u need a specialist to service it as the electricals can be a pain.
3. The ride experience is pretty similar to the older bullets except that I felt these were more torquey.
4. Price: Depends on the seller and buyer. Only thing I would advice on this bike is to check for clear titles.
5. Check the oil flow, firing, clutch, overheating, starting trouble, cracks on the cases, noises in the engine. Yes, a bike with the original Amal carb and the Smiths Meter has more value. You will easily shell out 15k for both these put together. Also while you are at it, check if it has the original rims with the Dunlop Made in England Marking (it adds to the value).

If you get a good deal on this bike, pick it up. This is one of the easy to learn and maintain classics. Check on the net and you will get loads of learning material. You can look into restoring the bike finer and in more detail as you learn about it. This bike is more original than 90% of them in the market right now.

Ive answered to the best of my knowledge and all that I have said above might not be true.

All the best.
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Old 27th November 2009, 08:54   #7
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Practically, is it worth buying a vintage and restoring it? Its expensive and if you find another vintage that you'd like to buy & restore, would you be able to recover the amount you spent on the current one? If it doesn't sell quick enough, you might even lose the oppurtunity to buy the other vintage.

For a collector, it is understandable. But for a person with a limited budget, buying, restoring & maintaining several vintages takes quite a lot of money.
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Old 27th November 2009, 16:45   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
Practically, is it worth buying a vintage and restoring it? Its expensive and if you find another vintage that you'd like to buy & restore, would you be able to recover the amount you spent on the current one? If it doesn't sell quick enough, you might even lose the oppurtunity to buy the other vintage.

For a collector, it is understandable. But for a person with a limited budget, buying, restoring & maintaining several vintages takes quite a lot of money.
Your right Gordon. Im one of those people with limited budgets. I dont know if it is a rule or something, but then when I am searching for a bike I dont get it and the same bike when I want to sell it I dont get buyers.

About ur first question, "practically", I dont think that word stands good in this context, as most people or at least me is blinded by the passion and we leave logic, practicality, and reasoning behind. Like most people, I learnt it the hard way, trial and error. I used to pick up any bike that I used to get for a low price but then found it impossible to restore it and then I wud literally sell it for a lower price. Then I used to buy bikes without proper documents and then struggle to get one. Now, Im weeding out my garage as I went and bought anything and everything just because they were a classic. I guess I went through some kinda addiction.

After these few years, now I have become a little sensible in what I choose to buy and sell. Now, I can say NO. Now, Im channelizing my thoughts in one direction and trying to collect a particular brand and gain more knowledge in it. Anyways, if budget permits and something really juicy from another brand comes up, I go ahead and buy it.

Since we got to this topic, I also want to add that I have put up a Lambretta and Vespa in the classifieds, so if anyone interested please look it up. I will go for cash or exchange.

Cheers.
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Old 27th November 2009, 20:12   #9
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@Spyder please view these classifieds on the teambhp classifieds sections to get some more ideas.


Team-BHP Classifieds - 1951 Matchless G3L in unrestored condition - Powered by PhotoPost Classifieds

Team-BHP Classifieds - Matchless motorcycle - Powered by PhotoPost Classifieds


Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 27th November 2009 at 20:18.
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Old 27th November 2009, 23:10   #10
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75k is too much, I was offered an absolute original matchless which was seized by cops and was inside court room for 15-20 yrs and was auctioned later and was with some antique seller, I struck a deal with him for 50k. Ah! my bad luck by the time I could finish my office and got back to him to make the payment it was sold . Once there were no one asking for Matchless I used to find atleast 4-5 bikes lying aside with my mechanic and atleast 1 with others but now all vanished. Next good option is AJS the twin brother for Matchless thats what I say. You can try your luck both are reall good bikes. All the very best.
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Old 1st December 2009, 11:55   #11
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Thank you all for your valuable inputs. I have still not had a chance to check out the bike since the owner seems to be busy. Hope to see the bike this week.

@H3LIOS - thanks for the suggestion to validate prices against ebay uk. I did that and the price is similar to what is being quoted in India for bikes of similar nature.

@Gordon - thanks for the pictures. I had also seen them to compare originality of looks. Also agree that most first time buyers (including me) are not fully aware of what they are getting into. With some involvement in the restoration and the help of others here, I have learnt somethings about Jeeps myself, after picking up a CJ3B recently.

@veloce - thanks for the inputs on bike values. I will also keep that in mind while negotiating the prices. Though 35-40k seems to be a good price, most buyers tend to be 'greedier' than that (don't blame them since there are chaps willing to part with obscene amounts of cash for such toys). Given this, I am hoping that I will be able to dispose of my CJ3B at a good price, when required for a better vintage.

@Tuffryder - the inputs you gave on the model were most helpful. You seem to be very fond of Matchless/AJS. Have seen you make references to several brochures and advertisements that you have in other threads.

@anjan_c2007 - thanks for the links to the classified. I thought they were on the higher side and therefore did not pursue them. Would like to share a link to vintage bikes for sale at Sell Second Hand Bikes, Buy Old Used Second Hand Motorcycles - Bikes4Sale.in , which I found very helpful and hope others do too. For Jawa / Yezdi bikes, you can also check JAWA & yezdi Club, India - Ads -

Will keep you all updated once I have had the chance to look at the bike.

Cheers,
Spyder
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Old 1st December 2009, 16:08   #12
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Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
@Tuffryder - the inputs you gave on the model were most helpful. You seem to be very fond of Matchless/AJS. Have seen you make references to several brochures and advertisements that you have in other threads.

Spyder
Im glad they were helpful. Yeah Im pretty fond of Matchless as it was my first true british motorcycle.
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Old 1st December 2009, 16:45   #13
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My two annas,
Go quickly to see the bike and with cash for a deposit and a transfer set. Take a friend who knows about bikes. Check out how the engine works, how the bike runs and the gears and clutch. Check out the papers. If all is well and you really want to buy a british bike, bargain and strike a deal. From the pic the bike looks nice. Parts may be missing and some maybe be not original. If everything on it was like the day it came from the showroom I think the price would be much more. Expect work to crop up and be prepared to learn how to fix the bike and to spend your sunday afternoon with the bike fixing odds and ends.
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Old 3rd December 2009, 11:24   #14
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Smile Not pursuing this bike any further.

Hi all,

I just spoke with the seller..the bike does not have original Amal carb and Smith meters and there are a few other modifications. Currently he says some work is being done on the suspension. Also, the papers do not seem to be in order, since the owner is being dodgy about it. He is also not keen to dispose of it at the 40k range.

Since I am not interested in pursuing this further, anyone else who is interested in this vehicle can contact Murali at 09394802173. Would be good to see someone give it a good home. Best wishes.

Cheers,
Spyder
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Old 22nd January 2010, 02:45   #15
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Talking about how plentiful these bikes were a few years ago is like a bald man talking about his 'hairy' youth. We are in the present, and the sad part is that a lot of these bikes have since been sent to the scrap yard, condemned to be broken and melted down. Finding 100% original bikes is very, very difficult, the reason being because they don't exist or the owner won't sell them. If he does, gone are the days you could pick up a pristine example for 30-40k.

The sad truth is that today, the steals are just that - lemons. Classic and vintage motorcycles appreciate, not depreciate. Don't expect them to become cheaper in the coming years.

Gordon, passion doesn't really dabble with economics. And when you've built a bike ground up with your own hands, selling it will come last to your mind. And passions are seldom practical.
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