For a while, Matchless were the largest motorcycle maker and from the turn of the century, the Collier Brothers were involved in powered two wheelers. Both Harry and Charlie Collier believed in competition, and before World War 1, the marque was well established.
The company’s premises were in Plumstead, South East London, and were well removed from the Midlands centre of the industry, but this seemed to have little effect on their prosperity.
In the 1920s, they also built cars. At the start of the 1930s, the company had a range of singles much as any other manufacturer, plus a big V-twin for sidecar work.
For 1930, they also had the new Silver Arrow, which was kept under wraps until the last minute. It was another attempt to provide the touring rider with the fully equipped sophisticated machine.
The problem was that enthusiasts would clamour for advanced developments and sophistication but would never purchase it. Fortunately, Matchless continued with their line of straight forward machines which sold well and kept them solvent.
The Silver Arrow had been a focus of interest when it was first shown, but it was too small and placid to excite people. Within 12 months, this changed when the company unveiled a machine with a four cylinder overhead camshaft engine at Olympia. It was called the Silver Hawk.
The 1934 range was slimmed down a little, and among the casualties was the Silver Arrow, D, D/5, D/6, D6 and D7. The mudguard beading was changed to a gold line in 1935 and a change to chrome plated wheel rims reflected the move away from the economies of the depression years.
In April 1935, an important new model was announced which was to set the style and format for the range from then on. The new G3 was known as the Clubman. It had a vertical cylinder and used the trusted 69 x 93 mm dimensions to obtain 348cc. It had an OHV, a magneto tucked behind the engine and a dynamo beneath that, where it was chain driven from the crankshaft.
During the 1930s, Matchless supplied engines to Brough Superior, Calthorpe, Coventry Eagle, OEC and OK Supreme.