Henry Collier


Charlie and Harry Collier


Henry Collier was a designer, entrepreneur and winning rider. Together with his sons, Charlie and Harry, in 1899 he founded Matchless Motorcycles, which went on to become the largest motorcycle manufacturer in England. In 1907 Charlie Collier rode a Matchless to victory in the first ever Tourist Trophy, the legendary motorcycle race that still takes place on the Isle of Man, his brother Harry then went on to lift the trophy again in 1909 and once more in 1910.
With the rise of motorcycling, bolstered by great commercial success, Matchless acquired other major brands such as: AJS, Sunbeam, Indian and Norton, to form the 1938 brand AMC (Associated Motorcycles Company), which then went on to become the leader in the global motorcycle market.
In the late 20’s Matchless was at the forefront of post-war technology, in particular in relation to the famous “Model X”, launched in 1929 with a pioneering V-twin 990 cc engine.
Consequentially, Matchless developed a V-engine with overhead valves, which was considered the most innovative engine of that period and was the engine of choice in prestigious models by both Brough Superior and Morgan.
During the Second World War, the Matchless G3L was adopted by the Allied Forces which lead to over 80,000 units being produced.
After World War II Matchless became the undisputed leader in single-cylinder engines. The G3 and various versions of the G80 reached huge commercial success, while the ‘G50 Racing’ became the more competitive bike for private racers and brought many successes with legendary riders such as Mike Hailwood, Jack Findlay, Peter Williams, Phil Read, Sammy Miller and many others.
The parallel twin cylinders, used in both Matchless and Norton models, is another innovative piece of craftsmanship which was developed and produced in the famous factory located in Plumstead Road, London.
The Collier brothers were visionary entrepreneurs. In fact, Matchless was the first manufacturer to take care of rider’s safety, creating a department to design protective clothing for motorcyclists, which was then tested by the best riders of that era. From the ‘20s to ‘40s Matchless developed great expertise in leather, especially for top riders to wear in races. Even in the postwar period, the company developed off-road clothing brought in and tested by the great Malcolm Smith, a true icon in endurance and motocross.
There are various Matchless advertising pages from the 40s, which ahead of their time, emphasised the combination of motorcycling and elegance. Famous pilots of all specialties, as well as every day motorcycle enthusiasts in fact, chose Matchless for the innovative combination of design, performance, safety and elegance.
The Collier brothers were farsighted and were the first to create a lifestyle around the idea of motorcycle.

In 2012, Matchless was purchased by the Malenotti family and is currently in the wake of a great revival, intended to bring the legend of Matchless back to the forefront and reveal it to the new generation.
Today, after only two years, Matchless is a brand not only for enthusiasts of the myths of the past but also for future generations.
The clothing line “Matchless London”, managed by Michele Malenotti, is currently stocked in a number of globally prestigious stores and represents the epitome of “luxury-urban lifestyle”, faithfully continuing the work begun by the Collier brothers in the 30s.
Worn in the past by iconic figures such as Marlon Brando and James Dean, today Matchless dresses stars such as Bradley Cooper, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, David Gandy, Antonio Banderas and Scarlett Johansson. Matchless recently became the jackets of choice for great Hollywood productions including “24 – Live Another Day”, “Mortdecai” and upcoming epics “Life”, “Avengers 2″, “Terminator5″,” The Expendables III” and “Batman vs Superman“.
At the much anticipated 100th annual 2014 EICMA Cycle and Motorcycle exhibition in Milan, Matchless will simultaneously celebrate its 115th anniversary by presenting the “Model X Reloaded,” a design inspired by the legendary “Model X” originally produced over 80 years ago.
The bike was designed by Franco Malenotti in conjunction with the Matchless design team, a process closely overlooked by the Collier family to maintain and respect the spirit and tradition of Matchless.
Entrepreneur and designer, Franco Malenotti has a renowned reputation in the motorcycle industry, having previously collaborated with manufacturers such as Honda, Morini, Ducati, Bimota, KTM, Aprilia, working with historical models such as the 1000 Laverda Jota, the 1000 Laverda RGS and the Morini 500. He has also designed various accessories and clothing, collaborating with Shoei, Oakley, JT Racing, Millet, Lewis Leather, Dainese and finally Belstaff where he was creative director from the early 90s until 2011. He personally built a collection of over 100 motorcycles, representing the most important events in bike history. The collection was sold entirely to the museum Aprilia.
Today, he is in charge of the Matchless style.