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650cc motorcycles were becoming more popular and Norton's response in 1962 was the introduction of the 110mph 650SS.

The engine was a stroked version of the Dominator 99 and the frame on the SS was altered so that the top rails were closer together to create what became known as the 'slimline featherbed'.

Norton Dominator SS 650 painting by Steve Dunn.

Click here to see Steve's prints

 Norton Dominator SS painting by Steve Dunn

However, even as the 650SS was introduced, Norton already had the 745cc Atlas waiting in the wings.

The Norton Atlas was the stepping stone between the Dominator / 650SS and the famous Norton Commando.
It featured many parts from the Dominator range including Norton Roadholder front forks and the slimline version of the famous "Featherbed" frame.


A scrambler version of the Atlas was also introduced in 1964.

1964 Norton Atlas scrambler. Image courtesy of Norton Motorcycles Ltd.

Image courtesy of Norton Motorcycles Ltd.

In 1963, AMC closed the Bracebridge Street works and Norton production was transferred to the AJS works in Plumstead, London.

In 1966, AMC sold out to Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd. who had already taken over Villiers a few years earlier.
Norton Villiers was thus formed.

 

Norton then introduced the Commando which featured a 745cc twin cylinder engine that was rubber mounted in an 'isolastic' frame.
This was increased to 828cc and later versions featured an electric starter.
 
Norton Commando Fastback painting by Steve Dunn.


Click here to see Steve's prints


 

 Norton Commando Fastback painting by Steve Dunn

The Commando had a strong following, but even this could not save the Norton Villiers company who then moved to Wolverhampton in 1968.

Norton Villiers were struggling financially and were assisted by the British Government in 1973 and Norton Villiers Triumph (NVT) was formed.
However, this was short lived and t
he Government would not provide any further financial assistance to NVT.

Norton Commando 850 painting by Steve Dunn   


NVT battled on until t
he last Commando finally rolled off the production line in 1977.

 

Norton Commando 850 painting by Steve Dunn.


Click here to see Steve's prints

 

                                                         

In 1987, the Norton Group PLC was formed by Philippe Le Roux and other investors. The company started to produce a range of rotary engined machines in Lichfield in 1988.

In 1992 Steve Hislop won the Isle of Man Senior TT Race riding the Norton F1 Rotary.

In 1993, the Aqulini Investment Group of Canada acquired ownership of the Norton name and brand.

In 1998, a plaque to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Norton was erected at the Bracebridge Street factory and each year in March, the Mike Hailwood Memorial Run starts from the factory.

In the late 1990s, Kenny Dreer, a vintage motorcycle restorer based in Oregon, USA designed a modern take on the Commando.
This featured a twin cylinder 952cc engine which was then increased to 961cc.

In 2003, Dreer, funded by businessman Ollie Curme, acquired the Norton name and set about marketing the new Norton. 
Eventual lack of funding led to the project being halted in 2006, however the Norton name is now back in the running after
 Stuart Garner, a UK businessman, bought the rights to Norton in 2008.

Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd., based at Donington Park in Leicestershire, have revived the Commando name and are currently selling a range of 961cc twin cylinder machines:

Click Here to see the Commando 961 SE, 961 Cafe Racer and 961 Sport.

Norton Commando 961SE. We would like to thank Norton Motorcycles for allowing us to use this photograph on our site

 

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We would like to thank Norton Motorcycles for allowing us to use the Norton logo & images on this site.

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