1973 Norton Commando Combat Roadster for Sale

The Norton Commando is truly iconic motorcycle, the dream of countless “ton-up boys”, now grown to middle-aged men.  Rarer and a little more rakish than Triumphs of the same era, its forward-canted cylinders and fastback styling dripped with class and the promise of speed.

This one appears gorgeously restored:

1973 Norton Commando Combat Roadster

Prior to 1973, Nortons sported the motor immortalized in the Tom Waits’ song Hang on St Christopher: “there’s a 750 Norton bustin’ down January’s door…”  But 1973 saw the introduction of the 850 [actually 828cc] version of the venerable pre-unit twin.  The bump in displacement allowed similar power with less stressed engine internals, a good thing, considering the reputation of the earlier 750 Combat motors…

With a 10:1 compression ratio and 65hp, the Combat was introduced as the hot-rod version of the Commando, and the name proved unintentionally apt, with the high-compression motors regularly grenading spectacularly: main bearings and broken pistons were shockingly common.  This widely-publicised  disaster was another the nail in the coffin for Norton’s reputation and the company continued to spiral into debt, with the last machines rolling off the line in 1977.

The 850’s were introduced in the Spring of 1973 and, if the badging on the side-panel is correct, this Commando is a 750 produced earlier in the year.  The seller is a fan of old British motorcycles, but is listing this on behalf of his brother’s widow:

This is a spectacular Commando that was given a complete, ground-up professional restoration by my late brother, and I am selling it on behalf of his wife.

 The restoration was completed in 2008/09 and is correct to all specifications with the exception of the alloy tank, alloy wheels and stainless spokes and stainless rear mudguard, plus braided stainless brake lines.  There are many new, better-than-original-quality parts.

 I am a Velocette guy, but nothing I have ever ridden is as tight, responsive and sure as this bike. The handling is just as superb as the appearance.  I’d love to have it for myself but the 7 bikes I already own make that impossible.

Technical details are spare, but the seller appears happy to answer any serious questions, and he’s posted pictures of what appears to be a very beautiful bike.  From the work that’s gone into the restoration, I’d assume the motor’s been built to be far more durable than the original, and the Buy It Now price he mentions in the listing seems very fair.

-tad

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2 Responses

  1. Leroy Gonsalves says:

    Am interested in buying the bike.

  2. Murray B. says:

    That is a beautiful bike but why does “history” tend to become fiction over time?

    Only a few Combats “grenaded” themselves back then and Norton’s reputation did not suffer much because of it. Most bikes were corrected before failing and Nortons continued to sell well until the end.

    The British motorcycle industry lost money because some of their competitors were “dumping” bikes at “predatory” prices and the British had no choice but to lower prices. Eventually up to 45%
    tariffs were imposed on the offending manufacturers but these came too late to save the British industry.

    In late ’72 environmental legislation forced the elimination of NOx which ended the Combats and every other high-performance engine vehicle sold in North America.

    Since the Combats were new for ’72 and legislated out of existance later in the year this makes them very rare. The improved ’73 model Commando with the Combat engine represents the best of the breed and is what Jay Leno should have in his garage.