1975 Norton 850cc Mk3 Commando Interstate
The Norton Commando’s vibration-beating Isolastic frame enabled Norton Villiers to successfully prolong the life of their hugely successful parallel twin. The futuristic, boldly styled 750 Commando Fastback was announced at that Earls Court London Show in 1967, the Commando used the preceding Featherbed-framed Atlas model’s 745cc engine and AMC gearbox, and was an instant hit with the motorcycling public, being voted Motor Cycle News ‘Machine of the Year’ for five consecutive years. It might have been a little down on top speed compared to rivals such as BSA-Triumph’s 750cc triples and Honda’s CB750 four, but the Commando more than made up for this minor deficiency with superior mid-range torque and far superior handling. Initially offered as a 750, the capacity was increased to 850cc for 1973 for even more midrange torque, and with stronger gearbox and clutch and a plethora of minor improvements.
The 850 cc Mk3 Commando was launched in 1975 only as a Roadster and Interstate with an improved specification – electric starter, Isolastic head steady for improved vibration absorption, left-side gear change and right-side foot brake to comply with United States vehicle regulations, and a rear disc brake. The specification remained unchanged until October 1977 when the last machines were made, although few Roadsters were made in the end due to the higher cash sales value of the Interstate. The model was, however, the most reliable, oil-tight and robust of all the Commandos.
The motorcycle offered
1975 Norton 850 Mk3 Commando Interstate offered here has been, until recently, owned by a British bike enthusiast for over 37 years. When purchased in April, 1984, the odometer was recorded at 13,641 miles and now reads a believed-to-be genuine 338,000 miles from new. That equates to the second owner riding only 24,000 miles over the 37 years of ownership. The matching numbers machine (frame, engine and gearbox) left the factory in June of 1975 for export to the US market. All-correct with 850cc engine with a black barrel, left hand gear change, right hand rear brake, left side front brake disc and the hugely desirable electric start. The previous owner has always been keen on regular maintenance, always keeping it clean and “ready to go.”
Under new ownership, the bike was fully recommissioned, including the replacement of the starter motor for a WOSP high torque item, which works fantastically well. Believed to be original paint, which today is in very reasonable condition; there is a small dent in the tank’s top left side. The right muffler has a dent under the foot peg. The bike is ready to be enjoyed with the exception of tires, which have 2009 date codes and should be replaced.