The first model introduced by newly formed Norton Villiers Ltd at London’s 1967 Earls Court Show was the unusually styled Commando Fastback. While retaining Norton’s sturdy 750cc twin cylinder engine from the Atlas, the Commando engine mounts in a specially designed frame with a new and remarkably efficient anti-vibration system, known as Isolastic, which effectively isolated the motor’s oscillations as soon as engine speed exceeded 2,500 rpm. The new model was a mix of innovation and tradition. Long-proven forks, hubs, and transmission were as fitted to earlier Nortons, but it was the forward-inclined engine, the sharply angled rear shocks, and those snazzy cast alloy foot peg carriers which broke the new ground.
For the first two seasons the Fastback was the sole model offered, with a limited choice of colors. Motor Cycle News, England’s high selling weekly ’paper, still chose the Commando as their 1968 Machine Of The Year… for five consecutive years.
The Fastback on offer was purchased by our vendor in 2008 from an extensive Central California collection of European motorcycles, restored to factory specification, and with 179 miles indicated on the odometer.
Upon delivery, the bike was re-commissioned from its dry storage and static display, by Wayne Sumner, who replaced the battery, cleaned the fuel system and got the bike running properly. After Sumner’s retirement, the bike has been regularly serviced by Bob at Legends Motorcycle in Fresno, California. A few years ago, the Amals were replaced with new items to aid in easier starting.
The bike now runs well, with a taut engine and good, responsive power. All systems work as they should, and the bike is certainly a “blast to ride”. Used sparingly over the last 12 years, it now shows only 254 miles on the odometer, and offers a chance to purchase an icon of British motorcycle design.