Fast forward to about 2000/2001 and my health was improving but I’d started a business and didn’t have much spare time. My cousin has a pretty decent motorcycle collection and restores them. He agreed to do mine for me. I presented him with many boxes of bits, extra bits and a 1957 (I think) G80 to go towards the costs. There was no rush, and I gradually watched the bike slowly come to life again. A great deal of work went into the bike and a considerable quantity of new parts…gone were the days of cheap motorcycle spares.
Sadly I couldn’t get the original number plate back as I had no documents except for the Dating Certificate from the AJS & Matchless Owners Club which verified the frame and engine numbers were a match, and the day it left the Plumstead factory. Sadly, the registration records for Dene Motor Company where the bike was sold, had been lost in a fire. I spent an afternoon at the Woodhorn Archive trying to find any further information, unsuccessfully.
I’d completed my bike test in 2005 on a Honda CBF500…I did the Direct Access course onto a ‘big bike’. I’d bought a similar Honda, a CBF600, after taking my test but went to collect the Matchless to ride home; a trip of about 25 miles.
Riding a vintage bike is very different to a modern one…the rear brake and gear levers are transposed for a start. You can’t hurry gearchanges, you need to leave plenty of space up ahead…and with a 350cc single, you can’t be in a hurry. For me, old bikes do have bags of character compared with most new ones…in many ways I prefer them.
All was well on the way home, apart from an engine mounting stud nut that fell off (there were others holding things together and the stud didn’t fall out), it stalled occasionally when stopped at a junction (turned out to be a loose screw holding the contact breaker leaf in place) and when I was almost home, I braked and the handlebars tipped forward (the securing nuts hadn’t been fully tight), all was well. I had a few trips out on it and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Below you will find a slider of the restoration photos: use the arrows at the left and right to flick back and forth quickly, and click on an image to stop the slider. Sorry some of the inside shots are quite poor quality but they were taken with an early EPSON digital camera…how things have changed!