Match­less G15CSR

Late comer

Old Bike Australasia - - FRONT PAGE - Story and photos Jim Scaysbrook.

It was the fi­nal act in the in­te­gra­tion process that would see the com­pany’s big bikes slip into a melt­ing pot that would sap their iden­ti­ties in a spate of badge en­gi­neer­ing. Up to this point, the var­i­ous brands in the AMC sta­ble had been al­lowed to pur­sue their own in­ter­ests – up to a point – that saw mod­els openly com­pet­ing with each other. But by 1962, AMC’s di­rec­tion was firmly in the hands of not the draw­ing of­fice, but the ac­counts depart­ment. When Nor­ton an­nounced they had stretched their ven­er­a­ble twin to 750cc in the form the At­las, Match­less de­cided they too must have a 750 in the range. And so the equally ven­er­a­ble Match­less twin, which had started life as the 500cc G9 a decade ear­lier and had be­come the G12 in 650cc guise, was coaxed out to 739cc to form the G15. By all ac­counts, the G15 was a frag­ile thing, and was sold in a fairly mild state of tune in order to keep it in one piece, mak­ing it lit­tle quicker than the G12 650. All of which has noth­ing to do with the G15CSR you see here. In 1964, AMC, now with Nor­ton en­sconced in Plum­stead, gave up on the G12-de­rived G15 and pro­duced what was listed as the G15 Mk 2. This ma­chine was cre­ated by the mar­riage of some Match­less cy­cle parts, some Nor­ton cy­cle parts, and the Nor­ton At­las en­gine. The prac­tice at the time was to in­te­grate an in­creas­ing num­ber of Nor­ton com­po­nents into the Match­less/AJS range, most ob­vi­ously ditch­ing the fa­mous AMC Tele­draulic front forks, which had gained such a de­sir­able rep­u­ta­tion on the front of thou­sands of 350cc G3 Matchos in WW2. In their place on the new G15CSR was a length­ened ver­sion of the even more fa­mous Nor­ton Road-hold­ers – the longer style hav­ing been de­vel­oped for the US model At­las Scram­bler a year ear­lier. The wheels also came from the Nor­ton parts bin; fa­mil­iar full width hub items laced to 18-inch rims. De­spite the ex­tra urge from the At­las en­gine, the Mk2 ver­sion failed to ex­cite the press in their road

tests, as well as the buy­ing pub­lic. AMC’s re­sponse was to pro­duce a CSR ver­sion, as they had done rea­son­ably suc­cess­fully with the G12. In fact, the new Match­less/Nor­ton owed much of its styling to its fore­bear, and was ini­tially listed in both Bri­tish ‘café racer’ form and the US mar­ket Scram­bler ver­sion. Both fea­tured with thin al­loy mud­guards plucked from the suc­cess­ful G80CS Scram­bler and used on the G12CSR, a steel ver­sion of the beloved ‘compy’ fuel tank for the Scram­bler, tough-look­ing swept back ex­haust pipes on the UK model (which could also be had with op­tional clip-on han­dle­bars) rear-set footrests (which were so rear set that there was no pro­vi­sion for pil­lion rests), re­versed gear change and rear brake, longer Gir­ling rear shock ab­sorbers, and what Dun­lop called their dual pur­pose tyres – the K70, which was in fact quite a de­cent tyre for dirt roads but no­to­ri­ously grip­less on the tar. Vis­ually, the CSR was hot stuff. Chas­sis-wise, the G15CSR em­ployed the twin down-tube, sin­gle top tube Match­less frame, mod­i­fied at the steer­ing head to take the Nor­ton front end. The en­gine’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion con­tin­ued un­changed, with twin 1 1/8” Amal Monobloc car­bu­ret­tors, but the over­all gear­ing was low­ered slightly in the in­ter­est of brisker ac­cel­er­a­tion. Com­pres­sion ra­tio was a fairly soft 7.5:1 and the en­gine had a claimed 49 bhp at 6,400 rpm. A UK test in 1965 re­sulted in a 115 mph top speed with 13.8 sec­onds for the stand­ing quar­ter mile – the sort of fig­ures de­signed to titi­vate the rock­ers of the day whose favoured tackle was the BSA Light­ning and Tri­umph Bon­neville. The trou­ble, was, by the time AMC got around to pro­duc­ing a model aimed at the greasy-hair group, the rock­ers had grown old, got mar­ried, and been forced to adopt more sen­si­ble trans­port for grow­ing fam­i­lies. The ma­chine fea­tured here is in the US spec­i­fi­ca­tion that was pro­duced from 1966 to 1969, and also sold in lim­ited quan­ti­ties as the AJS Model 33 CSR. Al­though sub­stan­tially iden­ti­cal to the more com­mon café-racer ver­sion, the US model has sub­tle dif­fer­ences. In place of the rak­ish swept back pipes are stan­dard (as in At­las) ex­haust pipes and muf­flers.

Be­cause of the rear set footrests, the UK model had a re­versed cam­plate in­side the AMC gear­box, to pro­vide the usual one-up, three down shift pat­tern with a re­versed gear lever. How­ever the Scram­bler has con­ven­tional for­ward-mounted footrests and gear lever, so it re­verts to the stan­dard AMC se­lec­tor cam­plate. The ta­cho drive, which ex­its the front of the tim­ing cover, likes to lean against the top of the right hand ex­haust pipe – a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion for a plas­tic coated com­po­nent – so it is sheathed in a metal sleeve, which only partly cures the prob­lem.

Quite prob­a­bly, in­spi­ra­tion for this model came from the Nor­ton No­mad dat­ing back to 1958. The No­mad used a 600cc Dom­i­na­tor 99 en­gine (uniquely fit­ted with twin car­bu­ret­tors) in the sin­gle down­tube frame used for the ES2 sin­gle and the Model 77 side­car hauler, with high, wide han­dle­bars, kicked up muf­flers and raised footrests. Aimed at the mar­ket dom­i­nated by the Tri­umph TR6 Tro­phy, the No­mad en­joyed mod­est sales. On the G15CSR, the at­trac­tive al­loy chain­cases re­placed the pressed steel ver­sion used on the At­las, and 19-inch wheels re­placed the street ver­sion’s 18 inch­ers. In­formed sources reckon that only around 100 of the G15CSR Scram­blers were built, and about 85 of these were des­tined for USA. De­spite the best in­ten­tions and heavy pub­lic­ity by US dis­trib­u­tors Ber­liner in the Amer­i­can me­dia, sales were slow. So slow, Ber­liner urged AMC to cease the time-hon­oured prac­tice of stamp­ing the year of man­u­fac­ture on the crankcases, as stock piled up in the ware­houses. The model sol­diered on un­til 1968, fi­nally hav­ing its fate sealed when AMC it­self went belly-up in early 1969. To add to the con­fu­sion, there was yet an­other 750cc model con­jured up in the same range – the Nor­ton P11. This one was dreamed up by Cal­i­for­nian Nor­ton dis­trib­u­tor Bob Blair, who had been racing a Match­less G85CS in lo­cal desert events. Af­ter all-but de­stroy­ing his Match­less in a ma­jor prang, Blair fit­ted a Nor­ton At­las en­gine into the G85CS chas­sis, which it­self was heav­ily based on the Rick­man Metisse de­sign. When Blair pe­ti­tioned Ber­liner to put the hy­brid into pro­duc­tion, the word came back from AMC that the chas­sis/en­gine mar­riage would not work, so Blair’s ma­chine was crated and sent to Lon­don to prove it ac­tu­ally could. The P11 went on sale in USA in early 1967 and found a will­ing mar­ket, with de­mand out­strip­ping sup­ply. A more road-fo­cussed ver­sion, known as the Nor­ton Ranger, was pro­duced in very lim­ited num­bers from 1968, but like all other mod­els, dis­ap­peared when the Com­mando came on stream the fol­low­ing year.

It was a con­fus­ing time for AMC and its dwin­dling band of loyal cus­tomers. As the end drew near for the once-proud AMC con­cern, bikes were as­sem­bled piece­meal ac­cord­ing to what­ever parts were in stock or could be sourced from sup­pli­ers on ex­tended credit. All of which makes An­thony McKay’s 1967 G15CSR quite a rare mo­tor­cy­cle, es­pe­cially in these parts. An­thony has a soft spot for big Bri­tish bikes, and has an Ariel Square Four amongst his small col­lec­tion. The G15CSR came via Mel­bourne spe­cial­ists Cy­cle Style Aus­tralia. Cy­cle Style pro­pri­etor Jon Munn had known of the bike’s ex­is­tence for some time – it had been owned from new by an Aus­tralian ex-pat in USA. It is 100% orig­i­nal, right down to the Dun­lop K70 tyres, and ac­cord­ing to An­thony, runs like a clock.

Air fil­ter is a tight fit be­tween the oil tank and the Amal Con­centrics. Tool­box nes­tles on the left with the ig­ni­tion switch in the top bracket. Bat­tery sits un­der this cover. Ta­cho cable has metal shroud­ing to ward off ex­haust pipe heat. Diode sits un­der tank in the air stream. Oil tank is tucked in nicely. AMC al­loy chain­case re­places the usual At­las tin ver­sion.

INSET TOP Smiths in­stru­ments were com­mon Bri­tish fare in the ‘six­ties. ABOVE Al­though only sin­gle lead­ing shoe, the Nor­ton front brake works well.

ABOVE The Scram­ble presents a slim pro­file. TOP RIGHT Seat is iden­ti­cal to the more com­mon café racer ver­sion. ABOVE RIGHT 11 litre fuel tank is a steel ver­sion of the AMC ‘Compy’ tank.

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