Norton Motorcycles 1950s

Today in Motorcycle History


Norton-Villiers was a British motorcycle manufacturer formed in the 1960s following the collapse of Associated Motorcycles (AMC).

  • In 1966 Associated Motorcycles (AMC) went bankrupt and were taken over by Manganese Bronze who formed Norton-Villiers to oversee operations. At the time Norton was the only motorcycle marque in the company that was making money. The AJS and Matchless traditional single cylinder four-stroke models were finished. Matchless and AJS badged models, with Norton motors, were assembled till 1969.
  • In 1968 all models had new carburettors, ignition systems and an ignition lock. The G15CS/N15CS/M33CS had improved cycle parts for 1968-69.
  • The P11 series was a completely new development for 1967 and was further developed for 1968-69. The P11 was available either as Norton or Matchless.
  • For Norton-Villiers the development of a new engine was cost prohibitive, but the vibration of the 750 cc vertical twin was so well transmitted to the rider through the Featherbed frame of the Norton Atlas, that it was dropped in favour of an earlier experimental frame that would separate the rider from the engine with rubber bushings. The Isolastic frame Commando was developed in time for the 1967 Earls Court Show.
  • 1968 Production began in April 1968, but bending problems with the frame resulted in a more developed frame being introduced in January 1969.
  • The 1969 Commando S was introduced with a high level left-side exhaust and a 2.5 gallon petrol tank. The original model was thereafter referred to as the Commando Fastback.
  • In late 1968 the Plumstead works at Burrage Grove, where engines from the Wolverhampton plant and frames from the Manchester plant were assembled into complete machines, were presented with a Greater London Council compulsory purchase order. The Plumstead works closed in July 1969.
  • A Government subsidy allowed assembly to move to a factory at North Way, Andover, with an aircraft hangar on nearby Thruxton Airfield housing the Test Department. Manufacturing was concentrated at Wolverhampton, with 80 complete machines produced there each week. Wolverhampton also shipped components, assembled engines, and gearboxes to the Andover assembly line.
  • 1972 By the middle of 1972 the BSA group was in serious financial trouble as a result of its BSA and Triumph motorcycle activities. The Government offered a financial rescue package contingent on a merger of the two groups and Norton-Villiers-Triumph was born.

Source: Graces Guide