Founded by James Lansdowne Norton in 1898 in Birmingham, England, Norton was originally a trader in motorcycle fittings & parts. In 1902 the company began manufacturing motorcycles with bought in engines. By 1908 a Norton-built single-cylinder engine was added to the range which continued with few changes until the 50s. In 1914 Dan O’Donovan broke a staggering seven world records on the 490cc Norton reaching speeds of 78 mph. The First World War had an impact on production but by the early 1920s Norton were literally back on track … and scooping up titles galore – between 1924 and 1938 Norton won the Isle of Man Senior TT event ten times. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Norton were ahead of the military motorcycle game with their Norton 16H. Between 1937 and 1945 nearly a quarter (over 100,000) of all British military motorcycles were Nortons. Post war and Norton resumed its successes at the Isle of Man Senior TT with consecutive wins from 1947 to 1954. With the Manx Norton of 1947 and the Norton Dominator in 1949 with the benchmark featherbed frame the Norton range of civilian motorcycles became more assured. However, Norton was in dire financial difficulty and by 1953 sold out to AMC. Production under the Norton moniker continued … changing to Norton Villiers in 1966 when AMC became insolvent. With 1968 came the Commando (in several different styles) and its innovative isolastic frame. In 1972 Norton Villiers merged with Triumph. Improvements on the Commando continued and the Wankel engine was developed. Norton is now owned by Norton Racing Ltd and is based at Donnington Hall, Leicestershire.

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