Today in Motorcycle History

AMC - Amalgamated Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Marque

The name of the Matchless Motor Cycles company was changed to AMC in 1937. AMC was not a manufacturer in its own right, but rather the parent company of a group of motorcycle manufacturers which included Matchless, AJS, Norton, James, Francis-Barnett, Sunbeam and others. They sold the Sunbeam name to BSA in 1943.

In 1946 Freddie Clarke joined AMC as Chief Development Engineer after a row with his former employers, Triumph. In 1947 AMC absorbed Francis-Barnett, and in 1952 further extended the empire by soaking up Norton. 1958 saw the introduction of unit construction 250cc AJS/Matchless machines, and in 1960 leading light Bert Hopwood resigned and went to Meriden. That same year AMC posted a profit of some 200,000 pounds, not a great result when compared with BSA's 3.5 million. The following year saw them in the red to the tune of 350k sterling, and with the closure of the Norton plant at Birmingham the following year and the merger of Norton with Matchless, the future was beginning to look rather bleak.

During the 50s and 60s the main export product for AMC was the AJS/Matchless range - the road bikes were very similar, often with only the badges distinguishing one marque from the other. A similar situation occurred with James and Francis-Barnett.

AMC engines were sold to other manufacturers including OK-Supreme in the late 30s, OEC, and Brough Superior.

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