Past Sale Highlights

1933 Matchless Model B Silver Hawk


Matchless is one of the oldest marques British motorcycles, manufactured in Plumstead, London, between 1899 and 1966; initially Henry Collier and his sons made bicycles but soon became successful motorcycle manufacturers.

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Registration number YD6392 Frame number 924 Engine number 33/B 1943.

Matchless is one of the oldest marques British motorcycles, manufactured in Plumstead, London, between 1899 and 1966; initially Henry Collier and his sons made bicycles but soon became successful motorcycle manufacturers.

The Silver Hawk cost £72 new in 1933; £35 more than Ariel's Square Four, and the price of the Matchless rose to nearly £79 in the four years of its production run. Some 500 Silver Hawks were sold between 1931 and 1935 (only 60 in 1933); it was outsold by the cheaper and more popular Ariel (which continued in production until 1959) and was dropped from the Matchless line up in 1935. Only some 60 examples are believed to exist today. This particular example was first registered on the 8th March 1933 in Taunton, Somerset, to a Mr A.C. Thomason as recorded by the Somerset Archive records, how long he owned it and to whom he sold it is unknown as the first log book was surrendered to Kent C.C. in 1954. The replacement RF60 states that in 1949 she was registered to Edwin Randall of Bexley in Kent, he sold it to Ronald Hooker of Crayford, Kent in 1954 and then Peter Frederick Smith Stafford bought her in early 1957 (still registered as a Sidecar Bicycle). On the 18th November 1957 the RF60 was altered by East Riding Licences to a Bicycle, the last tax stamp being December 1957.

Peter was the younger of two sons of a Leeds metal dealer who retired to Grange farm at Brandesburton Moor, in the East Riding of Yorkshire in the early 1950's. He was an engineer in the Merchant Navy and left in early 1957, purchasing the Silver Hawk for the journey North, as it was cheaper than the train fare! He rode it locally for a year before it became too unreliable and it was left on its side in a barn. In 1984 the family sold the farm and Peter moved to Easingwold, North Yorkshire, taking the Silver Hawk and an exceedingly rare 1931 Beverley-Barnes motor car, inherited from this father. In 2006 he acquired the only known example of a Beverley-Barnes, a fully restored 1925 example. Upon his demise in 2009 Bonhams auctioned all three at their Harrogate auction; the 1925 Beverley-Barnes sold for £48,000, the 1931 rolling chassis for £31,000 and the Silver Hawk for £28,000.

Purchased by Don Law of Hull, YD6392 was slowly restored, the non-original parts being removed and original examples found. The frame was stripped back, confirming the frame number to be 924. The engine was stripped and found to be in very good condition, needing only new piston rings; the four bevelled gears for the overhead camshaft were worn out and new ones made; the crankshaft needed considerable work and this was undertaken by Alpha of Dudley; the gearbox was in very good condition and only needed an overhaul and was returned to the correct hand shift. The front/rear brake linkage had been changed from the right hand side to a modified Norton version operating only the rear brake, presumably by Smith-Stafford and this has been retained. Since the completion a correct period dropped forge lever has been obtained and will be included in the sale (diagrams for the linkage are available from the owners club should the next owner wish to convert it back). During the restoration Don sadly passed away but the work was continued by retired engineer Peter Autherson of Hull and she is now being offered for auction as a fully and correctly restored, matching numbers example (the clock is a modern replacement).

Offered for sale with the replacement RF60, a V5C, the last two tax discs (1957/58), a Model B Silver Hawk instruction book, close up photographs prior to the restoration, various receipts for works done, and several old motorcyle magazines with articles on the Silver Hawk Arrow/Hawk. The engine has been run for half an hour but never on the road so gentle recommissioning is advised before enjoying this incredibly rare and interesting motorcycle.