The tale of two John Player Nortons

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Norton and their Winning Ways were making a comeback in the 1970’s, and with the backing of John Player Tobacco Company, they were back on the track. The Norton Atlas had grown into the Norton Commando, and with the addition of a rubber isolation system, the vibration was tamed, and with a total of 850cc, the Norton became a Super Bike, again. These two John Player Norton’s may be “paint editions” and not have the twin headlight fairing to emulate the JPN endurance racers, but you are getting possibly the pinnacle and swan song Norton.

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From the first seller

For sale is my 1975 Mk.3 Norton Commando John Player paint edition. The bike has had a full engine rebuild with forged JE pistons, Black Diamond valves, Superblend bearings, re-sleeved Amals, Boyer ignition, new camshaft, upgraded starter wiring, and new British made peashooter mufflers.The iso’s were also rebuilt….Bike has new British made stainless steel rims with new spokes in stock size and has new Dunlop Roadholder K81’s with maybe 1000 miles total since I mounted them….The bike was repainted very nicely in it’s stock JPS paint scheme. The seat cover is in nice shape but the foam should at some point be replaced or better yet, upgrade to a Corbin seat.

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Both of these bikes offer electric starters. These were first offered in 1975, also introduced in 1975 was something that wasn’t new, but something required by the Design Company that is the United States regulation committee. They said that all motorcycle have to have the brake on the right, and shifters on the left. This Design Company that was the United States ruined a lot of good designs, both motorcycle and automobiles.

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From the second seller

1975 Norton Commando John Player Edition. Numbers Matching, Excellent original condition,  down to the black cap silencers and very well maintained. Includes detailed service records since new. I purchased this from the original owner who bought the bike new from the Norton Dealer in MN. The mileage and paint is original with service records to back it up. Starts and runs excellent, doesn’t smoke and the carb is tuned to idle at that perfect Norton low rumble. The electric starter has been rebuilt and upgraded to the 4-brush starter, it works great (it will also start first kick, if you prefer to kick start it). The original air box, tool kit and service manual will be included in the final sale. I put about 400 trouble free miles on it last year.

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Now it was difficult to get a sense of the difference between the full fairing JPN replica racers and the John Player paint edition, but I was able to find the below numbers for performance. The key may be in that the JPN full fairing seems to have been offered for 1974-75, and the electric start from 1975-78. The Tobacco Company left the Norton racing effort rather quickly and it would make sense that they would not want to advertise a sponsor that was no longer sponsoring Norton. Something else that these two auctions might give is a sense of how much buyers value original pain. At the time of this writing the first Norton John player with its re-paint has 9 bids up to $5700. The second Norton John Player with its original paint has 30 bidders up to $10,000. BB

John Player Norton Commando
Years produced:
 1974
Total production: 200 (est.)
Claimed power: 50hp @ 5,900rpm
Top speed: 115mph (est.)
Engine type: 828cc air-cooled OHV parallel twin
Weight (dry): 435lb (198kg)
Price then: $2,995
MPG: 40-50

 

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