MAN OF LA MATCHLESS
Filed Under: Lifestyle | Posted: 02/16/2007 at 8:40AM
Comments | Region: Connecticut | United States
MAN OF LA MATCHLESS
Ron Gluch bought what he thought was a fairly common Matchless motorcycle thirty six years ago for twenty five dollars, and tossed it in his barn. Ten years ago, Ad Coppens visited him, took one look at it, and said
“You know that that’s a Typhoon, right?”
Ron didn’t know until that moment that he owned one of only two hundred that were made especially for the American market by the one of
“I collect pieces that are so bad that other people do not want to touch them, and I make completely new motorcycles out of them”, he says.
Ad has come a long way from the post WWII years, when motorcycles were nothing more than a dream. When he was 17, his mother bought him a Matchless.
He came to
So much so that he now owns six of them, in addition to another half dozen AJS’, sister brand to the Matchless’. Rebuilding these singles is a way of life for him, to the point of constantly having to build or buy the machines and tools that he needs to duplicate or fabricate pieces that have not been made for over forty years. His garage was built especially to house his ever-growing pride of little known but exquisitely beautiful machines. The attic would make a legitimate parts shop green with envy where frames awaiting the master’s touch hang, surrounded by hundreds of carefully labeled bins containing thousands of of nuts, bolts, levers, pedals and any possible part that he could ever imagine needing, gathered from his never-ending search through parts bazaars and sales sites. “I can relate to every bolt, and nut on the bike by the time I’m done, and it becomes part of the family”, he says.
The Matchless is an example of a little known but venerable example of English motorcycling, that like the Brough, is known to very few, and appreciated by fewer still. With the exception of BSA and Triumph, however, they outlasted all the rest.
They first rolled the overcast roads of the English countryside in 1899, and inaugurated the first British V twin in 1905. They grew through the embryonic years of British motorcycling when the art of the motorcycle was changing with every innovation that we now accept as the norm, in a mix of colors and shapes that would meld and break away, only to merge and evolve in the then largest national motorcycle scene in the world.
Their roots and greatest success was as racing machines, winning TT races in 1907, 09, and 1910. They made V twins in the 496 and 998cc class, produced engines so coveted and respected that they were used in Brough Superiors, the Cadillac of English two-wheelers.
But their most notable strength was their single cylinder, which are still considered by those who loved them to be the epitome of functional, reliable simplicity.
“They are quite simply, beauty on two wheels, and their glory was in their singles”, Ad said recently.
They were popular in
“They were very good in off-road use”, says John Deiderich, the current AJSMOC Secretary. “They were really popular in scrambles, and enduros throughout the country, especially in the northeast”
The 600 Typhoon began life as a 500 single that was stretched out to a 600 at the insistence of the
By far the rarest of the Matchless imports was the G80R, a 500 rigid single, four speed, magneto, sans front brake, designed specifically for the half-mile and mile dirt tracks. Fewer than seventy five were imported.
Now retired, his plans are very simple: “I’m gong to tend to my garden and work on my motorcycles; do some cooking and work on my motorcycles; paint the house and work on my motorcycles, and” …Well, you get the idea.