The evocative Norton Commando has to be one of the great icons of British motorcycle design, with its long, slender lines, slim tank and engine tilted forward at a jaunty angle, and gently upswept exhausts, it has always looked as fast as the performance figures would tell. At its heart is a free-spinning, torquey 750cc vertical twin, producing 58bhp mated to an AMC gearbox, mounted in a frame designed by former Rolls-Royce engineer, Dr. Stefan Bauer. He and the team beat the vibration produced by the engine, by installing it with a rubber mounting system to isolate the engine from the frame. These “Isolastics”, as they were named, completed an impressive package, heartily received by the press and buying public upon release at the Earls Court show in 1967. The bike was to be voted “Machine of the Year” by Motor Cycle News magazine for five consecutive years.
The Commando attracted a number of performance specialists, who made available all kinds of go-faster accessories. One of the highest regarded was Paul Dunstall, who had a catalogue of parts for engine performance, cycle part upgrades and a very sporting bodywork, designed with the popular Production Racer in mind.
The matching-numbers Commando on offer here, of 1974 vintage, manufactured in October 1973, has been in the current owner’s stable since the late 1990s. He purchased it in the modified trim you see here, with replica Dunstall tank, seat unit and fairing, rearset footpegs and the greatest sounding exhaust ever put on a Norton.
The bike has recently been subject to a very comprehensive mechanical overhaul by marque expert, Dean Collinson. Collinson is a supremely experienced restorer of the very highest quality – I have had Dean rebuild my personal British bikes of the era. The standard specification engine was converted to a single Mikuni carb for ease of maintenance and performance. The engine was checked for compression and internal integrity, valves adjusted, various seals replaced, etc. The gearbox was dismantled and rebuilt. The rest of the powertrain was checked and overhauled as necessary, and all fluids were replaced. Collinson turned his attention to the cycle parts, ensuring proper functionality of the isolastic system, front forks and the brakes. A new battery was installed with a new brake light switch.
Cosmetically, the bike is in excellent condition. The paint on the replica fairing, tank and seat has a mellowed patina of a meticulously stored and maintained older paint job, free of scratches, scuffs and dings. The fairing houses a Cibié headlight and has a clean, clear screen.
Finishes on engine, gearbox and all cycle parts reflect the meticulous care taken with the bike throughout its life. The bike runs on 19” Akront rims with stainless spokes and shod with good tires and stops courtesy of Lockheed front caliper and braided steel brake line. The rearsets show some loss to the chrome finish.
The engine produces ample power. The bike shifts through the gears perfectly with a good clutch. The bike handles superbly, running on Koni shocks at the rear, while a fork brace keeps the proddie racer forks in tack, steered with aluminum clip-ons with Tommaselli clutch lever. The bike comes with a file of receipts, a clean, clear California title and the original 1970s blue license plate.
This sale offers a fantastic opportunity to acquire an icon of British motorcycling in perfect canyon carving guise.