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1941 Matchless G3L WD
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When a Ducati 916-riding friend couldn't quite cope with the excitement of a military Matchless single, Basil Kitching stepped in to finish off the project...

Basil Kitching is a dab hand at paintwork, so it was natural that his friend would ask for help when he rebuilt an ex-War Department Matchless G3L. However, Basil explains that once the bike was done 'it was not what he expected. Well, after riding a 916 Duke - you can imagine! So I stepped in and bought it, and re-painted it to the exact colour scheme of the one I rode in Germany.'

The subtle are ot camouflage. Can you see the bike in this picture?

The G3L was an extremely popular DR's mount during WW2 because, unlike most other machines, it was fitted with Teledraulic front suspension. This made for a much more comfortable ride than did the standard girder forks fitted to most other military machines. By the end of the war, Matchless had built over 80,000 G3 and G3L motorcycles for the armed forces. The 'L' stands for 'Light', reflecting the fact that the prewar G3 was a substantial machine and it needed to lose some 60lb to be put into service during the conflict. After the war, the first civilian G3Ls were much the same as the military machines - but they were painted black instead of green…

If you are considering buying a similar G3L today, then you can expect to pay between £1700 and £3000. It's cheaper to buy one in civilian trim because the military motorcycles have developed something of a cult following, and finding exactly the correct WD equipment can get very tricky. However, you can find later G3s in military trim because the MOD continued to use the bikes into the 1960s.

Basil's Matchless was restored to standard spec for a WW2 machine and was given 'a first class total rebuild' without any obvious modifications 'so it's accurate for the period', and Basil reckons it is 'perfect… just as you would expect a military machine to be.'

He recommends Russell Motors for their 'good service' and Hawker Electrical for their electronic dynamo regulator.

Since the rebuild Basil has clocked up around 3000 miles, taking the 350cc single to shows and galas and on club runs. It always attracts attention. 'When we do shows it's amazing how many chaps of that era come and tell you tales from the days when we all served our country' says Basil. 'Then they ask if they can sit on it and have their photo taken!'

So Basil is really happy with how the G3L turned out, even though he didn't set out to own one.

'It's a belter and has won lots of trophies. You just couldn't make it any better than it is. It's ready for anything!'

Random Military stuff on eBay.co.uk

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THERE'S MORE on real-life AJS and Matchless 350 singles in the April 2007 issue of RealClassic magazine

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AJS & Matchless Owners' Club: www.jampot.com


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