Britain ruled the world of motorcycling for much of the 20th century. AJS, BSA, Matchless, New Imperial, Panther, Royal Enfield, Sunbeam, Triumph, Velocette, Vincent-HRD and many other British marques were the envy of the world. But one name always stood out: Norton.
There was a simple reason for Norton’s prominence: the Birmingham brand went racing from the very beginning and never really stopped. As one rival manufacturer said, “the market always follows the chequered flag”.
James Lansdowne Norton’s embryonic enterprise won the twin-cylinder class at the inaugural 1907 Isle of Man TT, dominated grand prix and TT racing from the 1920s to the outbreak of World War II, won several world championships in the 1950s, took its last grand prix victory in 1969 and its final TT successes in 1973 and ’92. Even in the company’s most recent and troubling guise, Norton continued to go racing.