My Dad used to hunt down old motorbikes in farmers’ barns, scrapyards and garages. Back in the 60s and 70s they were somewhat unloved and could be bought for next to nothing. It was very easy to accumulate a large collection at little cost, which he did.

Matchless G3LS

I used to go with him on many of his trips. One day we visited a farm at Great Whittington near Corbridge, to see a farmer called Malcolm Scott. I remember he had several bikes he’d been using as farm runabouts that he wanted to get rid of. I’m not sure what Dad came away with but I bought a 1953 Matchless G3LS that had been modified for trail or trials use. The jampots had been replaced by Girling shocks, there was an aluminium trials tank (Dad persuaded me to let him have that) and large trials wheels. There was a box of spares containing many of the original bits. The total cost to me was £8 in 1976 I think. Sadly I have no photos of the bike ‘as bought’. The frame was blue, the tank and mudguards were aluminium and it was all quite scruffy. There was no Registration Document and no trace of a number plate.

We got the bike home and with Dad’s help, I managed to get it running. Within a few days it was stripped down with the intention of rebuilding it. I can’t remember why now, but it never got restored at the time, and it stayed safe in boxes where it was dry. I went to university, got a job away from home, came back for another job, bought my own house, started a business, moved again…then in the early noughties thought ‘it’s about time I did my bike test and got that Matchless on the road’. It might have been my Dad’s death within a few days of the millennium that triggered it…after his affairs were dealt with. My health had also been pretty poor from early 1992 until about 2002.

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