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Lot 221: Matchless Silver Hawk

Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (24 June 2009)

Launched at the 1930 Olympia Motorcycle Show in London, the Matchless Silver Hawk was a direct response to the much anticipated launch of a rival four-cylinder model, the Square Four from Ariel. Largely the work of Bert Collier, the new Matchless was a development of the Silver Arrow and shared its novel cantilever rear springing in which the rear sub-frame pivoted in Silentbloc rubber-bonded bushes behind the gearbox. Two compression springs were mounted under the saddle and damping was by friction discs, controlled by a knob. Brakes were coupled 8-inch diameter, so both front and rear drums came into operation if the brake pedal was pressed, but the handlebar lever operated the front brake alone.

Power came from an innovative narrow-angle 5,93cc V4 with a single overhead camshaft, a crankshaft set across the frame, dynamo and coil ignition and dry-sump lubrication with the oil carried in a pressed-steel tank at the base of the front down-tube, bolted directly to the crankcase. The gearbox was a four-speed hand-change unit but the engine had such tremendous torque that it could run in top gear from walking speed to over 80mph. It was also exceptionally easy to start and could be pressed into life with just one hand on the starting pedal and no need for an exhaust lifter.

This four seems able to fit in exactly with the mood of its owner, wrote Motor Cycling. Driven lazily it will amble along in high gear all day long, slowing down for bends and surging away again up formidable hills like the most powerful car. It is a sporting mount with an ultra-refined performance  a long needed combination now brought to realisation. However, such sparkling performance didn't come cheap and, at �75 a pop, less than 550 were sold before production came to an end in 1935. Surviving examples are now extremely rare and sought after.

First registered in May1931, this particular Silver Hawk has been part of the Ivor Halbert Collection for many years. It has been upgraded from 6v to 12v electrics with converted dynamo and electronic ignition. Although the bike is believed to be in good running order throughout, the last MOT expired in 1997. It is supplied with a small quantity of spares and a modern V5C.

Lot Details
Auction Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number221
Estimate£14000-£18000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£22000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1931
Condition rating0
Registration numberGP 437
Mileage-
Chassis numberB721
Engine numberB667
Engine capacity (cc)593
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors