Words: Richard Rosenthal, Images: Mortons Archive
In the run-up to the Second World War, AMC delivered a number of models to the War Office for evaluation, leading to contracts to supply around 18,500 Matchless 347cc ohv G3WOs between 1940-42.
Government demands for lighter motorcycles led to the development and supply of 55,000 347cc ohv G3Ls, the first UK production motorcycle fitted with oil damped telescopic front forks.
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While makers since the veteran days had experimented with, or made, telescopic front forks, BMW are credited with manufacturing in volume the world’s first production ‘modern type’ oil damped telescopic front fork.
Although in volume production terms it was first supplied fitted to the side valve 745cc R12 and ohv 735cc, from 1935 it had been fitted to the prototype R7 and some racing and record breaking models.
BMW importers AFN Ltd of Isleworth, London, took on well known racer and Brooklands Gold Star holder (500cc/1933 and 750cc/1937) Jock West in 1935.
As well as working for AFN, West also raced BMWs, including to second place in the 1939 IoM Senior TT, pursuing team-mate Georg Meier. West was also well known at AMC of Plumstead, London and on good terms with the controlling Collier family.
Working in his sales capacity, he sold a set of BMW telescopic front forks to the Colliers c1936/7.
Reading between the lines, one imagines the forks were tested, stripped, measured and examined in detail before AMC designed and built prototypes of their telescopic front fork.
Youngest Collier brother Bert, factory manager, led the design and development work at Plumstead but died aged 34 after a motorcycle crash while on test in Kent in October 1941.
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