When you think of the most storied marques in motorcycling history, what do you think of? The Japanese Big Four have certainly been dominant on the racing scene as of late, with Italy holding their own throughout the ages. But it was the English brands that led the way to greatness, with the great Norton conglomerate - initially launched in 1898 - standing as the iconic representation of what a performance motorcycle should be. From the cafe racer scene to the mighty TT street races to doing the ton, Nortons have been the mainstay of cool and an unmistakable status symbol for those in the know.
Surviving through the rapid changes of the 1950s and 1960s - changing hands to become Associated Motorcycles (AMC - including brands AJS, Matchless, Francis-Barnett and James) in 1953, Norton thrived through the 1960s and into the 70s and even took over BSA and Triumph in an all-British consolidation move. Unfortunately, the bottom dropped out of the UK motorcycle market shortly thereafter, driving Norton (as well as the Norton-Villers-Triumph company) under. Through the 1990s the Norton name was kept alive by enthusiasts and restoration shops, changing hands a few more times. US-based restorer Kenny Dreer created the first iteration of the 961 Commando, but the Norton name was eventually re-aquired and launched in the UK with the resources to make a difference. This Donnington-era version of Norton placed the fantastic 961 Commando into solid production, a beautiful recreation of the Norton glory days faithfully updated with current, cutting edge components. Today's special featured listing is a 2015 Norton 961 Commando, but also includes a well-preserved 750 Atlas model from 1967.
Buy a 2015 Norton 961 Commando
and get a 1976 Norton 750 Atlas for free!
Let's start out with the modern bike first: 2015 Norton 961 Commando. The roots of the 961 Commando starts across the pond in the US with Kenny Dreer, a famed Norton restoration expert. As the rights to Norton moved back to the UK, the 961 was evolved and redesigned (virtually every part, so they say). And lest you think this was just the offshoot of a backyard dreamer, post 2008 variants of the 961 involved serious design and development; none other than Pierre Terblanche (of Ducati fame) counted his name on the Norton employee roster.
Powering the Commando is an air-cooled parallel twin with 270-degree crank pins. Bores are Nikasil coated to improve sealing, ensuring power and longevity. The feel and sound emulate the past, but the power delivery through a modern 5-speed tranny is all of the current day. Top shelf Brembos shed velocity, while Ohlins take up suspension duty front and rear. With about 80 HP on tap, this reincarnated Commando holds its own against the Monster or Suspersport lineup from Ducati while exuding more than a little British soul.
This was a $20k machine when new; exclusivity goes hand in hand with a high price tag.
From the seller:
2015 Norton Commando SE 1 of 50, only 566 miles, just in from California, beautiful condition, Dominator pipes, recalibrated ECU, all recalls and TSBs performed.
Putting aside the new Commando, let's step back some 50+ years; that is when the Norton Atlas first came into being. Acting as a precursor to the Commando of the late 1960s, the Atlas featured a 750cc parallel twin housed in a fabled featherbed frame. What makes the Atlas most interesting is the target market: America. Initial units were exclusively developed for export to the US. For the day, the Atlas was a significant motorcycle - all 55 HP, four-speed trans, limited suspension and drum brakes of it. Today these capabilities seem modest, but there is clear DNA in those bones.
This particular Atlas has but 8,000 miles, has been restored to what appears to be a very good standard, and has some star power as formerly being in the collection of Ewan McGregor. Not too shabby as far as a two-fer goes!
From the seller:
1967 Norton Atlas 750, restored and in very nice condition, 8K original miles, runs and rides and is well sorted. Former Ewan McGregor private collection bike.
So here is the deal: Buy the ultra rare 961 Commando, and get the Atlas for free. Offers around $25,000 USD to be considered. The seller is willing to break up the pair for the right buyer, but is offering a pretty good discount for both. Drop Corey a note if you are serious: firstname.lastname@example.org Good Luck!!