Kevin Wilson is getting ready to ship another restored motorcycle, and this bike is headed to its fourth continent.
A rare 1965 Matchless 500 cc G8oCS R Police Special was recently restored at International Classic Motorcycles & Motortrikes in Coombs.
Wilson is the owner of International Classic Motorcycles & Motortrikes in Coombs. Along with repairing motorcycles, the shop also restores classic bikes.
The 1965 Matchless was a wreck when Wilson got it.
“It was just a mess. You couldn’t even see the colour of the paint. It was damaged. It was wrecked. It was hardly moveable.”
But that mess came with a long history.
This police special was one only 20 made for a special order for the Rhodesian High Commission, Wilson said. He added it was the last batch of bikes sent over from England because after Rhodesia broke away from the commonwealth, the country switched over to Japanese-manufactured bikes.
These British motorcycles were used all the way through the apartheid era before being left and scrapped, according to Wilson.
“This bike was eventually — it was in pretty bad shape, I understand — it was driven all the way down from Rhodesia down into South Africa,” Wilson said. “Then once it got to South Africa, a guy tried to start to rebuild. He got kind of partially through it. It was just running, and then he moved to Canada.”
From there, Wilson said the man shipped the bike to the United States and drove it up to Manitoba where he did a bit more work on the bike.
“He thought he was kind of semi-restoring it.”
It was then, about four or five years ago, that Wilson bought the 1965 Matchless.
“It was the stupidest mistake I ever made because it was in such bad shape,” he said. “It looked better in the photograph than what it was.”
The bike was driven from Manitoba to Errington, where Wilson was located at the time, and then the rebuild started.
“I wanted to get it exactly as I could to the original. It took about three or four-and-a-half years to get the parts back together.”
It wasn’t a continuous build. Wilson said there was a lot of standing around and waiting for the parts over the years.
Now, a few years later, the 1965 Matchless has been sold for $15,000 to a British bike collector in Asia.
Wilson said the price is up there for a motorcycle, but for a classic bike like this, “it’s about right.”
The restored bike will be shipped from the Island to Singapore and will then be driven all the way up to Shanghai.
Wilson is just waiting to find out when the ship is coming to take the bike, but he said it’s probably going to be in the next week or so.
“It’s a pretty special bike. I’m sad to see it go, but that’s what we do. We build them and sell them.”
Wilson added that he gets a lot of pleasure out of restoring motorcycles to their original standard.
Over the years, his business has restored and shipped bikes to Australia, Brazil and the United States.