1962 Dick Mann Matchless G50
The Matchless G50 arrived on the British bike scene in 1958, a 500cc SOHC factory-fettled single built to pick up where the highly successful 350cc AJS 7R "Boy Racer" left off.
However, to compete in AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) racing classes, a bike has to be street-legal—or, at least, be derived from a street legal machine (or have a street-legal counterpart). Associated Motor Cycles (AMC), of Plumstead, London were owners of the Matchless brand (along with, at that time, AJS, Norton, James and Francis Barnett). The company responded by creating the G50CSR; a 500cc G50 engine fitted to a G80CS scrambler frame, and by "homologating the 7R frame as optional equipment into which the engine could be retrofitted".
Presently, the firm approached American racer Dick Mann and offered him a G50 road racer, plus a spare engine, and asked him to get out there and win, win, win. Dick, naturally enough, said that he'd do what he could, and his strategy was to use the complete Matchless for road racing and TT campaigns, but fit the Matchless engine to a BSA Gold Star rigid frame for flat track work.
It sounded like a plan, and it worked. In 1963, Dick Mann won the Grand National Championship astride this machine. Sounds a straightforward enough tale, but the story, both before and after this event, is actually far more complicated with claim and counter claims regarding the legality of the hardware being deployed.
You could make a compelling movie out of the off-track shenanigans, but we haven't got the time. Suffice to say, the dramas all came out in the wash, and Dick Mann subsequently won 8 of his 24 AMA national wins with Matchless.
What made the 1963 win all the more notable was that it was the first time the race had been won by a single cylinder-engined bike, and the first time that Harley-Davidson (since the race was inaugurated in 1954) hadn't won it.
This example (above and below) is one of two bikes Dick Mann owned. It was sold by him in 1992 and directly acquired by Fred Mork, who's not so well known on the British side of the pond, but is well recognised and respected Stateside.
Mork is a vintage racing enthusiast. He collects whatever is collectible, from rare Czech scramblers to American V-twins to the odd Matchless G50.
This example is being offered with a letter of authenticity from Dick Mann, plus an extra fuel tank, a top triple tree (yoke), handlebars used for TT racing, a set of the original Dunlop shouldered alloy rims, an original lower triple tree, and a spare, longer exhaust megaphone.
The provenance is, we understand, unimpeachable. And because the bike has such an illustrious history, Bonhams is anticipating around $100,000 - $120,000 (£64,000 - £77,000). The Lot number is 195.
We expect it to fly. And being an ex-Mann machine, it probably will.
— Del Monte
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