20th Jul, 2022 13:00

National Motorcycle Museum

Lot 340

1922 Matchless H2 Combination
Stunning restoration

Sold for £25,875

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: BF 9558
Frame No: H3875
Engine No: 62227
CC: 998
MOT: Exempt

  • The Matchless H2 combination on offer has been family owned since 1965
  • Purchased by the vendor's late father to restore
  • Probably one of the best Matchless H2s available today
  • Full credit to the current vendor and his skills
  • It comes complete with a current V5C

We are indebted to the vendor for the following information:

"The Matchless Model H was built in many guises, mine is a 1922 H2 with the M.A.G engine. The outfit was very advanced for its time, having overhead inlets and side valve exhaust, rear suspension and fully sprung sidecar.

I was 9 years old in 1965 when I went with my father to buy this bike from a farm near Blandford, Dorset the county we lived in. After dragging straw and hay bales off the bike we pushed it out into the yard. The seller chap started it up and dad rode it around for a little test, and for £15 (or thereabouts) the deal was done! We loaded it up and off we went, I vividly remember my dad saying we are going to take this home son and restore it. I don’t think I even understood what that meant at 9yrs old.

Well, Dad stripped it, bead-blasted most of it, primer coated it, had all the bits nickel-plated, bought new tyres etc., etc. My Father was firstly always a car fanatic and as he then purchased some old cars to renovate he decided that my brother and myself should have the bike. Well, you don’t restore a vintage outfit at aged 9, so there it sat kicking around in our car body shop for something like 10 years. My brother, also a car nut, said he was not interested in his half, so I paid him £100 for his share. This was a lot of money for me to part with then as I was still only an apprentice.

I got really keen to begin work on it but after a very short time I realised it was too big an undertaking for me alone as I was involved with competitive Trials riding, and playing Squash so had very little time left over. So, once again there it sat getting moved around in various boxes, and ending up on top of our office for another 40 odd years.

After getting married, having children and getting involved in running the body shop, then later on grandchildren, there was always something more important to take up my time. Finally, after taking early retirement aged 59, (after saying I would always start working on the bike after I had retired) I began the renovation process in earnest. It was now like starting from scratch again as not only had the roof of the garage leaked, but also a fire on the premises had smoke damaged everything. Whilst going through all the boxes, it became clear that quite a few components had gone missing. Some of the contents of the boxes must have been mixed up with car parts and been thrown out during a clear up.

At this point I visited The Beamish Museum as I had heard they had a working Model H. Here I met Ian Bean, who is in charge of maintaining the collection of Vintage Bikes. He was incredibly helpful and gave me lots of useful information. I took many photos and videos of the outfit which I was constantly able to refer to whilst re-assembling. So a massive thanks to Ian! After eventually working out what was missing the hunt was on. As you all may know, you can get most things for any post-war bikes, however, 1922 is a different story. The only thing you can buy for a model H is the stickers for the headstock and petrol tank!

I spoke to Rob Harknett, who told me the man in England to speak to, was Pat Gill, ‘Matchless Pat’ as I now call him. We needed a piston (std), camshaft, and drive gear, 1 complete inlet valve + assembly housing, Magneto, and a rear sprocket that incorporates the rear brake drum, and silencer. After many phone calls and emails, I managed to find a contact in Switzerland, where the M.A.G engines were made, who had a huge stock of Parts. Thrilled with this result, I sent a £1000 to an account in Switzerland and must admit feeling a little nervous waiting for them to arrive. Within a few weeks they all turned up, which was a huge relief.

Pat had a piston and a rear sprocket and brake plate, and also lent me a silencer which I was able to make a copy of. Quite amazingly the company that did the bead blasting all those years ago are still going strong and so once again all parts were blasted, primed and top coated, including the wheels and hubs, to exactly replicate the original look. All these Technical parts were sprayed by a brilliant company called Wicked Coatings near where I live.

The sidecar and sidecar chassis I prepared myself, and our old body shop which is now under new management and trading as Krashtechnic Ltd., did a great job of spraying it. Another incredible piece of luck was that the Sidecar had barely any rot, the wooden frame was in nearly perfect condition and the very thin metal panels were all in very good shape except for a six-inch piece under the back panel below the spare wheel. The lengthiest job of the whole restoration was preparing the sidecar for spraying - 70hrs! It had literally hundreds of pin dents all over it. Plus the 3/8 half round wood beading, 35ft of it, which is nailed on with steel tacks through the paneling, with a tack every 2 inches, the problem was all the tack heads had gone rusty, so I had to grind each one down to below the surface of the wood then fill the voids, very painstaking. All the time as I am re-assembling, I keep finding bits and pieces missing, things like the front fork pivot spindles, and primary chain, which all had to be specially made, adding to the cost a great deal.

So, the bike itself is getting close to being completed, apart from a few finishing touches and the lights (Acetylene Lucas king of the road). She is ready to attempt to start, as you can imagine I was quite worried about this, as although I have a good knowledge of the internal combustion engine, all my experience is with two strokes. I had completely stripped and rebuilt the motor at home but as it was the first time I had ever done valve timing so after a lot of kicking, grunting and head scratching, I decided to take it up to Pat's north of the M25, I had checked she was sparking but was definitely not confident of the timing. I had swapped the Bosch mag that came from Switzerland, for a Lucas which was correct for our year, with Pat, but it was a single-cylinder mag, so Pat had to grind a second lobe on the cam. All my valve timing was good and after a quick tickle on the carb she fired up 2nd kick! I was so excited, 2nd kick after 50 odd years, I couldn’t believe it. She ran like a dream albeit a bit hot, and once again Pat’s advice was spot on, he felt she was sucking air in through the inlet manifold, which was an easy fix when I got home. She has started 1st or 2nd kick every time since.

So back home and running next job was to put the sidecar chassis together and bolt it to the bike. All of the lines on the sidecar body had to be hand painted on which took about 4hrs in total for me and my wife using tape that you pull the centre out, then brush in the colour. Last of all the lights, halfway through the restoration I had bought a headlamp on eBay, but after another search at the body shop I found a box with the whole lighting kit in, what a result, so I set about renovating it all. I have to say once they were fitted it gave it the finishing touch.

I had left bolting the sidecar body to the bike and chassis as the very last job, it’s held on with just 4 coach bolts. As I had been on this project now for some 4 years I had set myself a goal to get to Poole quay bike night before the end of the summer. So, on the last Tuesday in August, we bolted the sidecar on loaded the outfit on a trailer, and off we went. My dad met us down on the Quay, I bundled him in the sidecar and we trundled along the waterfront to applause from the crowd, with dad in tears and me with a huge lump in my throat. Unfortunately, we arrived too late for the judging that evening, but we returned the following week when we were awarded bike of the night."

For more information, please contact:
Mike Davis
07718 584217


Auction: National Motorcycle Museum, 20th Jul, 2022


Wednesday 20th July 2022, from 9am

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