1942 Matchless G3L 350cc
As a collector, I have often commented on the fact that we are only custodians of these large collections and in time they need to be passed on to a new generation who hopefully will both enjoy the thrill of ownership but also protect the memories attached to the artefacts.
I was recently very honoured to be offered one of the wonderful motorcycles from the ‘Noel Preston Collection’ in Omagh. Noel is an internationally recognised expert on AJS and Matchless machinery but unfortunately ill health has forced the breakup of his lifetime’s collection.
Noel was a keen restorer and historian on these machines and the collection was a true tribute to his skills. While the collection has now been dispersed, the machines are living new lives with owners who respect the sheer beauty and engineering of these vintage motorcycles.
It is sad for any owner to see a collection that he or she has been passionate about being broken up, but this has always been the way that new collectors get the enthusiasm to continue and keep history alive.
The names on documents may change as vehicles change hands but the passion lives on. In the Classic Car market at present, some models are changing hands for ridiculous sums today and there is currently no sign of the market slowing down.
1942 Matchless G3L 350cc [The Abingdon Collection, Omagh]
In a booklet published by ‘Auto Classic Weekly’ in the 1990’s it recommended buying, among others, good condition E-Type Jaguars for £12,000 or Ford Escort Mexico’s for £3,000. If only we had all heeded the advice and stockpiled a few of the out of favour cars of the past we could all have retired by now.
This, however, is not why we collect these machines and gone are the days of the investor, only there to make a killing from another investment portfolio. Classic vehicle owners now keep what they have and search for the best they can afford.
There is no doubt that recent Classic Car Auction prices are affecting the market, you only have to look at recent results for Ford Capri’s to see how the market is changing.
Good classic cars and motorcycles will always hold their value and there is a need to collect, drive and show these fantastic machines to a new generation who hopefully will continue to keep this history alive. Collectors and restorers like Noel Preston and my late good friend, Nick Murray have ensured that history lives on in their tremendous skill and hands on work.
Young mechanics and collectors have a lot to learn in keeping this tradition alive and I hope that they take the time to reflect, learn from and develop the skills that are unfortunately being lost in a computer generated world where the humble carburettor will soon be a museum piece only.