The Norton Manx was a racing motorcycle built from 1947 to 1962. Just think about that for a second: it was a motorcycle that was good enough to be competitive, not just on the street, where that kind of longevity is still fairly uncommon, but in the brutal, cut-and-thrust world of professional racing, during a period of time where motorcycle development in general was rewriting the rules of what could be done every few years…
A hugely impressive feat, and part of what makes these bikes so desirable for collectors. It also helps that this thing looks just about perfect, with proportions, colors, and simple engineering that is aesthetic as it is effective on track.
While Norton officially retired from GP racing in 1954, they continued to sell the bike to individual racers. The light, nimble, and most importantly durable bikes were the perfect privateer bikes, easily adaptable to a variety of tracks and riding styles. They were simple and rugged, with excellent handling that put them ahead of more sophisticated or powerful bikes.
Powered by engines of 350cc or 500cc displacement, they featured reliable and precise tower-shaft and bevel-gear driven overhead cams. The almost square bore and stroke gave a wide, flexible powerband that made the most of the 500’s 50bhp and would push the 300 pound machine to 140mph, very impressive for a single-cylinder motorcycle
The Featherbed frame that gave the bike its winning handling was introduced in 1954 and was welded up without any of the normal mass-produced cast pieces that added weight and could reduce strength. With telescopic forks up front and a swingarm rear suspension, the bikes had forgiving handling that allowed riders to make up time against more powerful motorcycle on many tracks.
Believe it or not, Molnar in the UK will still build you one of these from the original 1961 specs and drawings, as they bought rights to the tooling in 1994.
From the original eBay listing: 1962 Norton Manx 500cc Model 30M
Set up and ready to go for AHRMA Vintage Racing with Norvil close ratio five speed transmission, fresh low end engine rebuild, short course fiberglass gas tank, Mitsubishi magneto, correct four shoe front brake, reverse cone exhaust, numbers matching engine and frame numbers and much more. An excellent investment!
Located in Southern California.
These are hugely iconic bikes and very collectable, and there’s no need to let these sit in garages or under tarps where they slowly decay: organizations like AHRMA allow owners to thrash these things on track with other like-minded folks. I had the opportunity to meet some of the riders and their families down in South Jersey last weekend and found a whole bunch of people who’d traveled from all over to entertain the crowd with some great, on-track action. Hugely recommended, even if you can’t scrape together the cash to buy one of these yourself.