I have not had this conversation before, but I bet many vintage motorcycle enthusiast look at an old bike and think, “I bet Jay Leno has one of those.” And since I have been to his Big Dog Garage web site, and spent time looking at the videos of Jay and his Motorcycles, I know that he does have a John Player Norton like this 1974 JPS offered up on eBay now.
From the seller
John Player Norton 850 in perfect condition. Matching engine and frame numbers. Not one scratch on it. Absolutely no rust. Original Dunlop rims with stainless steel spokes and nipples. Original speedometer and tachometer, black chrome exhaust system, factory clip-ons. Featured on the front cover of Motorcycle Collector magazine April 1994. They only made 200 of these models, and this is an authentic John Player Norton. Stainless braided overhead oil line and stainless braided front brake hose. Original rear shocks rebuilt inEnglandby Rustler Racing. Original Amal carbs re-sleeved by Mike Gaylord and rebuilt by Phil Radford at Fair Spares America. Phil also completely rebuilt the entire engine, gearbox, clutch, and front disc brake. Wiring harness is original. Fitted with Boyer electronic ignition, Lucas 6-volt coils, and Mk3 isolastic engine mounts front and rear. Motorcycle has covered only 1437 miles since Phil completely rebuilt engine and gearbox. Original mirrors, factory rearsets. Starts first kick. An eye-catching machine, low production, very rare to find one in such outstanding condition. I have owned and ridden this JPN since 1979. Currently fitted with Dunlop K81 TT100 tires and registered with clear title.
I think if you have been researching Nortons, or own one, some of the names that the seller drop mean more to you then me. But what this usually tells me is that the sell has spent a lot of money, and time, sending bits and parts of the bike to competent individuals to put them right. (I could drop some BMW names as easily.)
Based on the Commando line from Norton the JPS was a celebration of the Sponsorship of the tobacco company in Norton’s success on the race track. The Norton on the track was one of the first to use a Monocoque frame, but the street version is all fiberglass. In fact because of laws, there is a steel gas tank under all that pretty white glass.
The other thing under all that glass is a 829cc Norton Commando engine which will generate 60hp at 6200rpm fed by a pair of 32mm Amals. Don’t forget this is a push-rod engine originally designed by Bert Hopwell in the 1940’s. Though it might look Japanese with its full fairing and Dual Endurance inspired headlights, underneath it is still a British Twin. But that is not a bad thing. BB