My motorcycle experience began with a $65.00 Whizzer that had been run over by a car and my $109.95 Schwinn Panther. I remember those prices well because I worked setting pins at the local bowling alley in the winter. I drove tractor, stacked hay and irrigated in the summer, and I carried newspapers year around to save up first the money for the bicycle and then the Whizzer parts to make the Panther motorized. I was 14 when I got it all gathered up and I can still see the look of horror on my father's face when he walked into the garage that day to find me in the middle of two piles of parts including my now two month old and very expensive Schwinn bicycle.
As I explained my plan to Dad he shook his head in disbelief. A couple of days later it was ready for the test run and with a few minor adjustments it was, 'Katie bar the door!' 35 miles per hour tops and when the cops came I just killed the engine and started pedaling. Cops were much friendlier in those days. After several months I spun the inserts and it was Grandad to the rescue with his story about how he was able to keep his worn out Model A Ford running during the depression using bacon rine for inserts. If I used my head I could get a month's riding in before I had to change the bacon rine.
At 17 I bought a 1947 Harley Davidson 45 from the neighbor across the section. His little daughter had filled the tanks with sand and he didn't want to mess with it so I got it for $35.00. A week later I had it on the road. Then I tried the corn rows with it and tore my ankles up terrible on the running boards trying to get it turned around. A week later I sold the Harley for $135.00 and the week after that I got $150.00 for the Whizzer, new bacon rine and all. A couple weeks later I bought a 1951 BSA B33 for $300.00. I kept that beezer until I was 21 and tried just about everything on it from enduros and hillclimbs to touring and stunts. I once rode 27 miles standing spread eagle on the saddle. My competition career wasn't real successful and I soon noticed that the winners rode Matchless and I longed to own one.
In late January 1965 my Sweetheart and I happened into the mototcycle dealers' shop in Ft Collins, Colorado, and spotted last years model G12CSR sitting there priced at $1,295.00. This thing truly shined! Everything that cold be chromed was, and everything else was black except the red M's on the kneeknocker badges. I had to have it! I sold the beezer for $295.00 and we headed for the nearest bank, since the dealer couldn't carry the loan. The banker said he couldn't loan me the money because I was a trancient construction worker, but if I was married it'd be a different story. I turned to my sweetheart, gave her little wink and jokingly said, "Hey! Wanna get married?" She says, "Sure!" As we walked out of the bank she says, "Well, how do we get married?" Not knowing anymore than she did, and sorta going along with the joke, I suggsted going to the courthouse and getting a marriage license. The lady at the courthouse wouldn't issue us a marriage license without our blood tests. I made the mistake of chucklin' a little as we walked down the courthouse steps and she said, "Well! Where do we get a blood test?" I said, "I don't know, a doctor I guess." She said, "You best find a doctor or you're gonna need one!" That's when I realized this weren't no joke!
With all the red tape involved with weddings we were more than a month gettin' married and gettin' back to the bank to get our loan. When we got back to the motorcycle shop, the G12CSR was gone! The dealer wouldn't special order us one like it and tried to sell us one of the new G15CS models he had on the floor. There I was, new wife, pocket full of money and NO motorcycle! A few months later I bought the beezer back and we sorta made due until September first 1967 when we happened across Lee Cowie's Motor Sport shop in Saint Louis, Missouri. I was recovering from having hit a car on the way to the race track with the beezer earlier that spring and the wife was pressuring me to quit racing. Lucky for me, the G80CS I was oogling was spoken for and I was brought back from dreamland by the sight of my two year old daughter on top of a new G15CSR saying, "This one Daddy! This one!"
Lee traded my beezer and some cash for the G15CSR with the price tag of $1,334.00 and my racing career was over. We put over 12,000 miles on the 'Big M' by the spring of 1979 when my wife decided she had made a mistake forcing me to marry her so she forced me into a divorce and I was forced to sell the Matchless to pay for the divorce. That was the end of my motorcycle career until 1987 when my brother crashed the 'Big M' and died from his injuries and I bought it back from his widow. I spent a couple years searching for parts to rebuild the 'Big M' without much luck until 1989 when I ran across the AJS&MOC. I had pretty much given up ever restoring the 'Big M' and had filled a barn full of basket cases of every imaginable kind when I finally started finding a few Matchless things. Now I have a motorcycle salvage yard called Snowy Mountain Trading Post which started out to be a taxidermy studio, but that's another story. The G15CSR was completed at 11:30 pm on June eighth 2001, loaded into the trailer and hauled to Billings, Montana. The next morning it was entered in the Vintage Motorcycle Show held as part of the 2nd Annual Montana National Classic State Championship where it won Best In Show - Peoples Choice.
As for the 64/G12CSR, thanks to several of the (AJS&MOC) club members, I finally ran down one of the chrome beasts just a few years ago.
I think the Brits called it "gawd awful gawdy." I call it love!