Thursday, October 16, 2008

Norton: The revival-bust-revival story continues...



From left: The legendary Norton Commando 850, and a custom-built Norton cafe-racer with a Wankel rotary engine and the iconic JPS livery...

Norton’s gone bust. Norton’s been revived! Norton’s gone bust again. Norton’s being revived… and so on. A lot of people – including many hard core fans of the legendary British motorcycle brand – have gotten so tired of this routine, they’ve stopped caring. And yet, Norton is being revived again, yet again.

After close to fifteen years of American ownership, Norton is not only being revived, it’s also coming back to the UK. Stuart Garner, a UK-based businessman who also owns Norton Racing Ltd., has bought all the trademarks to the Norton, Manx, Atlas, Commando and Dominator brands.

Back in the early-1990s, these British brands were bought by the US-based Norton Motorcycles Inc., who then proceeded to spend a truckload of money towards developing the Norton Commando 961. The bike never became production reality, but now, with Garner having bought everything, a new Commando is likely come out in 2009.

‘This has been a challenging and exciting period for us. We are proud to have brought the brands back home and we now intend to focus on re-establishing Norton as a premier motorcycling brand across the World,’ says Garner. Norton Racing Ltd. is said to be developing a rotary-engined racebike, and a new road bike that’s likely to have a conventional engine.

With its new factory and office complex being based at Donington Park, Norton seems to be back where it really belongs. However, whether they’ll really make a contemporary, state-of-the-art motorcycle that people can actually walk into a Norton showroom and buy, remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, you can see what Kenny Dreer is up to these days, here. And for some very cool old Norton advertisements, see here


Surely, the company that made these bikes deserves one more chance?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

If they'd just manage to bring into production the design that Kenny Dreer tried to create, I'd be very happy.

Jason said...

Yeah, well, there have been multiple bust/revival stories for Norton, but it's a great brand and it does deserve one more chance. Just look at Triumph - see what you can do with the right people in charge.

Anonymous said...

go Nortie go! let's all go COMMANDO! ;-D

Anonymous said...

loved the old norton ads. thankx for the link. and keep up the good work, it's a great blog

BikerVoodoo said...

I believe Norton should emulate Triumph and move production of parts to Thailand, Malaysia or India (Thailand means you can penetrate the ASEAN market where import duties imposed on ASEAN produced motor vehicles is only 5%!). Final assembly can be in England so all bikes can be stamped (MADE IN ENGLAND), or if the source is somewhere else, just label them Norton, England. The made in XXX can be placed somewhere inconspicuous. With one BMW supermoto 450cc being being made by Kymco of Taiwan, does the country of origin really matter any more?

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