Italian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

ARMA-Matchless Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Italian Marque

ARMA : Milan ( & STRAM of Rome )
ARMA Motocicli, VIA G. Da Procida 27, Milan

Matchless AJS Main Dealers

After World War 2 there were many abandoned machines all over Europe and the Italians, who were full of engineering flair, saw an opportunity to do some business.

Italy's manufacturing industry was crushed at this time so a supply of British motorbikes filled the gap for those dealers who could not obtain a supply of new machines.

One company, ARMA of Milan, who were Matchless/AJS Main dealers saw a market for adding some Italian flair to a basic but good bike and so purchased G3L bikes and set about redesigning the rear to provide suspension in the Italian style.

Gilera appear to have been the main company, at the time, with swinging rear and it is likely that ARMA used this design as the basis for their interpretation. The Gilera had its spring tubes placed at high level but ARMA chose to undersling the tubes beneath the engine.

Each bike was finished to customer specification; other than the twin-telescopic suspension modification it is likely that no two machines were exactly the same.

ARMA of Milan was owned by Albino Gavoni and his partner from 1948-1951 was Dorino Serafini (acclaimed racing rider and driver for Benelli, Bianchi, Gilera and then Ferrari).

Dorino was an obvious marketing benefit to ARMA due to his fame on the race track.

When the supply of abandoned machines dried-up and the supply market started to re-establish itself the modified G3L's ended.

There is no knowledge of how many of these bikes survive but I have one (1945) and the nephew of Albino (Sergio Gavoni *) has another.

The most advertised modified G3L (not by ARMA) is the superb Gilera based bike of Ugo Cirri*

Acknowledgments and links :

*Most of the history of ARMA has been kindly provided by Sergi Gavoni. There are pictures at the following links : and

Ugo Cirri's G3L is covered in an article at

Matchless-ARMA G3L image on flikr :

Sources: Kim Vernon

Update August 2014

The Matchless-ARMA G3L has proved to be a real challenge ( thought that this would be the most straight forward project ) but it is now nearing roadworthiness ( not final finishing ). I should be able to send some info within the next month.

Whilst awaiting various parts for the Matchless-ARMA I decided to dig-out the MSF-NM and focus on the mudguards and chain-guard. Had the mudguards made and ordered a suitable chain-guard from Chambriers in France and these arrived last week so set about fabricating the hoops and rear framework. Pictures attached. This machine is now morphing into something that is very pleasing to my eye but unfortunately it appears to be the subject of substantial ?Blocking? especially in France and Switzerland.
I contacted the VMCC to see if they were interested in my article on the MSF-NM and they were keen. The article ( no proofing or agreement prior to publication and less complete pictures of my bike and mandatory credits/acknowledgements!! ) appeared in the Journal in April. Circa 18,000 copies sent out (around the world ) and not one comment. An offer from Bonham?s to contact a previous owner ( resident in Switzerland ) also failed to provide a result. This bike ( or/and me ) is becoming ( or has become ) the subject of much distrust/jealousy. I expect that I will have to live with this.
I have tidied up my Flickr folders should you wish to trawl for anything that may catch your eye and the link is :
Here is also a link to some uploaded videos ( some of these can be used to cure insomnia!! ) :
Specifically there is a video for the Matchless-ARMA :

Jan 2022

Unfortunately my friend Giovanni, who sold me the Matchless, has already died.

40 years ago he borrowed me his youth album to have photos taken from it. I have a few photos of the Matchless.

He took the photo with General Montgomery himself.

He was mechanic for all 6 Matchless of the General's Escorte. When 8th Army left italy, they kept all Matchless. They then automatically became Italian :)

All 6 Matchless were converted by ARMA in Milano to rear suspension. For the terrain group 1949-52. I still have two photos of it.

Later Giovanni became a Ducati dealer. Our Ducati Club Munich bought spare parts and scramblers for members there. There I bought his Matchless - without rear wheel suspension, around 1982.

The petrol tank can be seen in a photo from ARMA Milan.
Wolfgang Goebel

Several more images have been added to the comments section, and many appear in the Matchless-ARMA Gallery

"Having been operated on in a Yugoslavian civil structure and watched over by his faithful attendant Giovanni Benedetto Montagna disguised as a nurse, he soon recovered. On the eve of the armistice of 8 September 1943, having understood what was happening, even in the absence of higher orders, he returned to the operational headquarters to burn the lists of the components of the information service, so that they would not fall into the hands of the Germans. He succeeds in his intent and immediately flees by descending, with Montagna, through the underground canals of the building while the Gestapo broke into the venue.

On his return to Italy, aware of the fact that they are wanted by the Gestapo, he hides his family in the countryside, and then with Giovanni Montagna begins the long journey that takes him to southern Italy using the cover surname of "De Marco", which he added to his name after the war." Antonio Scaramuzza

ducati1 at
Dear Sir,
I think I have owned the ARMA Matchless G3L 1941 shown on your website for 45 years. I can send photos. The previous owner was Giovanni Montagna from Cornedo Italy. Ducati Store
Wolfgang Gobel
D-82110 Germering

I bought the Matchless G3L from Ciovanni, my Ducati friend and dealer from Italy, over 40 years ago. Unfortunately, he passed away last year.

He told me a lot about the Matchless story years ago, including the fact that they had founded an italy off-road sport group and all of them had their Matchless converted to Guzzi rear suspension.

There are some photos from about 1949-1950 in my possession. I think, all ARMA prearation!

The Matchless were later removed from the original because they were originally more valuable. A while ago I came across the ARMA website and now I know where the tank is from.

I have been driving it at classic car events and historical races for many years and there are many photos of it.

I had copies of the old photos made, but I have to scan them for the computer first. If you want I can send a few soon.

First of all many greetings


Tue, 05 Sep 2017
asdwyer at<
Triumph - ARMA 3HW 1942 (1948)

I thought you may be interested to see what I believe may be an ARMA (possibly a STRAM) Triumph. Did ARMA (or STRAM) use a logo? Yours, Adrian
Adrian Dwyer
Dorset United Kingdom

    It does not appear that ARMA used its own logo on the machines it produced. It did however use a bronze dealer plaque, usually on the front guard, which read, "ARMA Motocicli, VIA G. Da Procida 27, Milano"

Wed Sep 21 2016
52nsu at<
arma-matchless g3l
fyi. bought at auction usa 2016

Thu Sep 03 2015
czyzdawid at
ARMA-Matchless motorcycles
ARMA Matchless G3L
I have one of the ARMA Matchless. It is completely original and not restored.
Wejherowo, Poland

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