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Or in any other color, for that matter. This is my baby, a British-made 1953 Matchless G80CS, 500cc single, in the process of being restored by my brother-in-law, John Vaughan.
Ray had just bought this bike from a friend when we met in 1964; it was essentially an off-the-road scrambler, had no kick-starter, & certainly no key. Starting was necessarily by the run-and-bump method, & Ray was a genius at throwing his leg over the seat & popping the clutch. He could even do this feat of derring-do with me sitting on the buddy seat, a situation that arose once upon a time when the clutch cable broke…. Had to keep the bike running AND moving. What a man! What a bike!!
The G80 series was made from 1951 to 1955; it had a ‘long stroke’ engine with an 82.5mm bore. It was followed in 1956 by the ‘short stroke’ (final version) with an 86mm bore. The ‘C’ in the model designation stands for ‘Competition’ (scrambles – at one time we both had plenty of clothing with muddy backs, products of knobby tires & icky conditions, though we never were actually in ‘competition’), & the ‘S’ stands for ‘Suspension’ (as in not a rigid rear frame).
Because of the size of the engine & its single cylinder, the Matchless of this Ilk makes an instantly recognizable popping sound – not loud, just unique. I can’t take noisy bikes; bane of my existence as they become much more common on our street, but I can’t wait to hear this sweetheart when she finally comes back to life. Last year at this time, she was a bunch of parts in a basement. Now she’s back to something resembling the beautiful machine she was meant to be. John’s doing the current restoration, but we’re still half- owners. I threatened to leave with our half, but I wasn’t sure what that comprised, & it would’ve been a counter-productive action, I suspect.
Ray searched high & low for parts to keep this beast running over the years, with great success. He fabricated certain necessaries, brazed & finagled, & eventually he even added a kick-starter. Now all that has been torn down & is rising from the ashes, though Ray’s eclectic & often ‘original’ parts have been saved. So we’ll leave our half with John for now….
25 November 2010