Norton Motorcycles 1950s

Today in Motorcycle History

Norton International Model 30 & Model 40

The Norton International was an overhead cam roadgoing model built from 1931 to 1957. Colloquially named the Cammy Norton, it was like a Manx with lights - a wonderful beast as popular then as now.

Available in 500cc (Model 30) and 350cc (Model 40), in the 1930s factory options were numerous.

The machines were raced by high-profile riders like Jimmy Simpson, Stanley Woods and Jimmie Guthrie and it was not unusual for Nortons to finish 1-2-3.

Production of the International ceases at the onset of war in 1939, and resumed in 1947, continuing until 1957. The engine remained much the same throughout the decades, but a major upgrade in 1953 saw the adoption of the Featherbed frame. By then the machine's popularity was waning given the superior performance of the twins, and towards the end of its production life it was available only by special order and did not appear in the catalogues.

Considerably more information on the Inter may be gleaned from the George Cohen Archive

Norton Motorcycles of 1936 at the Olympia Show

Norton International 350 for 1936

Racebred! The 348 c.c. overhead-camshaft International model

Norton International Valve Springs for 1936

A new type of valve spring fixing is employed on the " International " models in order that the valves may be free to rotate

“International” Model.—490 c.c. single-cyl. o.h.c. Norton; dry-sump lubrication; magneto ignition; all-chain drive; oil-bath primary chain case; 4-speed gear, with foot control; fuel, 3½ gals.; 27x3in. (front) and 26x3.5in. (rear) tyres.
Price with electric lighting (solo), £95 10s.

Famous throughout the world, the “International” Nortons have been modified in a few details. There is now slightly more ground clearance, the steering damper is fixed direct to the frame to ensure rigidity, and the front brake adjuster can be operated while, machine is in motion.

The 348 c.c. “International” differs from its larger brother only in size and price, the latter being £88. Both will be supplied with light alloy cylinder barrels and heads at an extra cost. It would be difficult to find a more straightforward and simple yet highly scientific design.

The “International” models form the basis of the racing machines which have been so successful for many years. Can one wonder, therefore, at the clusters of sporting riders which surround the exhibit?

The 1935 Olympia Show reported in The Motor Cycle, December 5th, 1935.

1938 Norton International Model 30

This machine was built in November of 1938, but would usually be listed as a 1939 model it as first registered in London on 25th March, 1939 It was acquired by the previous West Midlands owner in September 2002 and underwent a comprehensive restoration before being purchased for the NZ Classic Motorcycles collection at an auction in Staffordshire in 2009. ~ New Zealand Classic Motorcycles

A 1947 Norton International was presented to Comedian George Formby during a visit to Norton’s Bracebridge Street factory in July 1947. Formby starred in the film No Limits, a satirical piece about the 1935 Isle of Man TT races.

jim.mccullagh1 at
Norton International 1938

I attach a photo of my father with his Norton FLR445 which you have in your excellent collection. My father purchased the machine in the mid 1940s and raced it in the local races in Northern Ireland where we live. The machine was given to his close friend, John Nesbitt a local Motorcycle dealer who my father raced with, in 1973. The machine was in our garage from the 40s until 1973. To the best of my knowledge it was purchased by Sammy Miller who restored it.

I trust that this information is of help.

jim mccullagh

Northern Ireland UK