1967 Matchless G15CS (Desert Sled)

Highlights 


  • Very rare in the UK
  • Restored by specialists in 1998
  • In current ownership for 13 years
  • Impressive history file
  • Matching numbers


The Appeal


Following the practice of placing one maker's engine into a bespoke frame, the Matchless G15 was available under three distinct brands. Initially sold just for export, these series of Motorcycles soon gained a reputation for comfort and reliability offering robust and proven engineering with predictable and effortless handling. 

Powered by the Norton Atlas engine, the 750cc twin was easily capable of reaching 100mph. Recognised as a later MK II version, around 1000 were believed to have been produced.

This 1967 Matchless G15CS (CS for Competition/Spring frame), has been restored by a classic motorcycle specialist shortly after being imported into the UK via Canada. 

It has seen a succession of improvements and upgrades over the years, and the model's credential as a competition desert racer still runs deep in the heart of this distinctive and very charismatic bike.

The History and Paperwork


  • Imported into the UK in 1998
  • Restored by Northants Classic Bike Centre
  • Part of a personal Vintage Motorcycle collection

Verified by the A.J.S & Matchless Owners Club, it was completed and tested by the factory in November 1966, with confirmation of it originally being sold in New Jersey by Berliner Motors, an established distributor of European motorcycle marques and best known as the supplier of Evel Knievel stunt bikes. It found its way North over to New Brunswick, Canada at some point and then imported into the UK in 1998. 

It underwent a mechanical and cosmetic overhaul, with invoices suggesting that around £2,000 was spent on it shortly after it was imported by Northants Classic Bike Centre. The current owner bought the bike from a collector in 2009 and has made several improvements to aid its reliability, including a new electrical charging system, an electronic ignition, a wet sump control valve, overhauled brakes as well as a refurbed tachometer. 

All of the Matchless’ servicing needs have been carried out by the owner himself, with specialist jobs sent off to one of several trusted specialists.

The owner has connections in the music industry and has been a collector of vintage motorcycles since the mid-1960s. Primarily collecting Velocettes, he came across the Matchless and simply bought it because he liked the look of it. Kept in dry storage in a specially adapted and secure garage, it has covered 12,000 miles since it was imported into the UK, suggesting it has been regularly used over the years. 

Often taking it to Norton Club meets, as well as those blasts through the Buckinghamshire countryside, he has reluctantly decided to sell the bike, as the performance and top-heavy nature of the bike have conflicted with a recent issue with his health. 

The bike, known affectionately as ‘Dylan’ comes with several spare parts, including a spare chain case, gasket set, rear shock adjuster and its original genuine and hard-to-find Magneto racing starter. That will need recommissioning but is a highly prized item. 

The bike also comes with a Haynes and parts manual, as well as a stack of invoices relating to its restoration and unusually for a North American import, original registration documents as well as a letter from the estate of its last owner.

The Interior


  • Refurnished Tachometer
  • Excellent seat

The controls are clean and legible, and the tachometer has just seen a refurbishment via a specialist. The hand grips still have plenty of life ahead of them with no issues noted on the foot pedals. The seat cushion is well padded with no rips.

The Exterior 


  • Solid competition frame
  • American-style handlebars
  • Pleasing presentation 

The 2.5-gallon petrol tank and side cover are complemented by the distinctive deep green finish. They have lasted well with light marks and the odd chip but are free of dents. Topped off by neat silver coach lines and distinctive M badges, the side covers might need a few new decals to finish off the presentation. 

The dual frame is a Matchless specific item, created for competition use and therefore designed with that in mind. Its well presented with no immediate signs of age, with the owner confirming that it has not needed any form of welding during his ownership. 

The extra long Norton Roadholder forks are solid, with their rubber gaiters in excellent condition. There are no issues in regards to the Swing arms or riser.

The 19” Akron rims are free from any damage, with just the lightest suggestions of age. The spokes are all tight and show no signs of corrosion. The Dunlop roadster tyres are both less than 10 years old and they retain a healthy tread. 

The twin leading shoe front brake has been rebuilt, and the drum has been skimmed and fitted with new shoes, having been set up and built by a professional vintage racer. The rear hubs are in good order.

The bright work, such as the stainless steel mudguards and alloy fuel cap have dulled somewhat over the years but is free from pitting or dents. The upright American-style handlebars still retain a healthy lustre. The headlamp and rear lights are in good shape.

The Mechanics 


  • Electronic ignition 
  • Upgraded electrical charging system
  • High compression pistons and high lift cams
  • Rides well

The Atlas engine has seen a wealth of attention over the years, with plenty of invoices to support its  professional restoration after it was shipped to the UK. The owner explained that the original twin carburettor set-up has since been replaced with a single Amal Concentric carburettor set-up, a decision to allow less fettling and increase reliability. 

There is no loss of power. The engine has also been fitted with high compression pistons and high lift cams, with no signs of fluid leaks noted on the day. The silencer is in very good condition. The throttle response is good but quick. This is part of the characteristic of this bike and like anything with a vintage charm may need a knack to develop. The steering, thanks partly to the thiner tank and wide bars is precise. 

The bike has also seen a fair amount of electrical improvements, including the removal of the original Magneto racing unit and, has been replaced with a far more durable Pazon electronic ignition. 

As a result it starts up instantly, whether the engine is hot or cold. The charging system has also been upgraded, losing the original Zener diode system with a modern rectifier/regulator set-up.

It kickstarts very quickly and is said to idle well with no unwanted noises on tick-over. The ride is said to be compliant, nicely dampened and able to deal with the road conditions without fuss. The 4-speed Norton gearbox uses a revised ratio rather than its original desert set-up, which makes the Matchless experience far more suitable for road touring. 

Another mechanical upgrade worth mentioning is the addition of a bespoke wet sump valve so the owner won’t need to continually drain the oil out. The owner is confident with the way the brakes work and has reported no issues with the clutch.

Summary


While the Matchless’ rarity will certainly cause a frisson of excitement, this beautifully maintained bike has been used and enjoyed and has seen a sympathetic series of upgrades that have simply enhanced the bike's natural abilities. 

Built during a turbulent time for the homegrown motorcycle industry, the Matchless is a fitting tribute to a versatile and well-appreciated design.


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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1967
  • Make Matchless
  • Model G15CS (Desert Sled)
  • Colour Green
  • Odometer 11,953 Miles
  • Engine size 750
  • Town Thame
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Location Oxfordshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
10 bids from 7 bidders
  • saunder•••• £6,200 08/08/22
  • moanyto•••• £6,000 04/08/22
  • Beezerb•••• £5,500 04/08/22
  • moanyto•••• £5,000 04/08/22
  • Beezerb•••• £3,000 04/08/22
  • Stevep1•••• £2,500 03/08/22
  • moanyto•••• £2,300 03/08/22
  • keith-r•••• £2,200 02/08/22
  • Wardy10 £2,100 02/08/22
  • oldtiff £2,000 01/08/22

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