Sight Unseen: 1966 Matchless G80CS

Buying a bike on Craigslist without seeing it first is not for the faint of heart. That didn’t stop John Anton from purchasing this Matchless G80CS.


1966 Matchless G80CS

Engine: 497cc air-cooled OHV 4-stroke single, 86mm x 85.5mm bore and stroke, 8.7:1 compression ratio, 30hp (est.)
Top speed: 90mph (period test)
Carburetion: Single 3/16in Amal Concentric
Transmission: 4-speed, right foot shift, chain final drive
Electrics: 6v, Lucas NC1 “wader” magneto
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube cradle frame/55in (1,397mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front, dual shocks rear
Brakes: 7in SLS drum brakes front and rear
Tires: 3.5 x 19in front, 4 x 19in rear
Weight (dry): 380lb (173kg)
Seat height: 33.5in (851mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 2.4gal (9.1ltr)/60mpg (est.)

Craigslist, in case you are unaware, is an online flea market. Anything and everything may be found on Craigslist, from a Santa outfit for a newborn baby to a John Deere tractor. The seller writes their own description of the object, and buyer and seller make their own arrangements as to payment and delivery. The Craigslist website states, “Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen — that amazing ‘deal’ may not exist.” Many sellers are honest, others are not. The Wild West is alive and well on Craigslist.

John Anton bought this Matchless sight unseen from a Canadian seller. It was supposed to be a runner, and appeared on delivery assembled, but with some unoriginal parts. Unfortunately, the description of the bike as a “runner” was a tad optimistic. “I could get four or five pops out of it, and I somehow doubt the magneto failed only during shipping.”

John is not only brave, but persistent. Faced with a less-than-common 50-year-old motorcycle in much less than perfect condition, he rolled up his sleeves and set out to make it run.

By 1966, the G80CS wore steel fenders instead of aluminum.

3/31/2021 9:14:51 PM

I bought a G80CS project about 1994. It had no electrics and was a strange mix of aftermarket parts, it had been a desert bike for years. I registered it through a 3rd party service with no issues, got it running and sold it for a song a few years later when I got married... still have the wife though!

4/16/2020 1:32:13 PM

My brother John got his 67 G80CS from Harry's Cycle's in Denver, Colo in 68. The machinic sold it in order to buy a P-11 (John has one too). It's always run with Castrol R oil, the best smell in the world! That summer he snapped on his smoke bubble shield to his Bucco Helmet along with 3 quarts of R and took off to River Falls, Wisconsin about 1100 miles to help on our Uncle Tom and all that's involved in running a 50 cow Dairy Farm. He stopped to top up the Matchless with the R at every gas station. He'd tuck in behind semi's going through Nebraska and Iowa to help with mileage and wind fatigue. The last 50 miles the headlight vibrated loose so he held it with his left hand determined to get to the farm. He still has the Matchless, P11 and a collection of fine bikes. To be young and not knowing "you can't do that!" never occurred to him.

4/16/2020 9:58:25 AM

I'm confused about the quoted size of the carb. 3/16? I could see maybe the fuel line ID, but the carb throat certainly looks 'normal' ie not less than a quarter inch. What am I missing?

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