1961 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. M11 97283
Engine no. 11M 97283
Dubbed 'Manx Grand Prix' in 1939, what would become the best-known racing motorcycle of all time had become simply 'Manx' when production resumed in 1946. Norton's over-the-counter Manx racers were much as their pre-war counterparts, with single-overhead-camshaft engine, 'square' cylinder head finning, upright gearbox and plunger-suspended 'garden gate' frames. Only the presence of the Roadholder telescopic front fork readily distinguished them from the '39 machines. 1949 brought the first significant change in engine specification, the Manx gaining a double-overhead-camshaft 'head like that enjoyed by the works bikes for many years, but the major development was the arrival of the Featherbed frame for 1951. The works' adoption of the McCandless-designed duplex-loop swinging-arm chassis the previous year had given the Nortons a welcome lease of life in Grand Prix racing, and Geoff Duke duly took both the 350 and 500cc world titles in 1951. The cycle parts remained essentially unchanged from then on, apart from the adoption of a double-sided, twin-leading-shoe front brake for 1962. Manx engine development though, continued steadily, latterly under Doug Hele's direction, until production ceased at the end of '62, among the most significant design changes being the adoption of 'square' bore and stroke dimensions for 1954 and coarser-pitch bevel teeth in 1957.
The vicissitudes of racing being what they are crashes, blow-ups, rebuilds, component swaps, etc it is not at all surprising that so many old racing motorcycles no longer have their original engines, which makes this 'matching-numbers' Manx something of a rarity. Sadly, nothing is known of its history apart from its factory record, which reveals that it was tested by 'Meads' and despatched to Norton agents, Middleton of Ripley. The machine was rebuilt by Frank Kay circa 2004/2005 and is described as in generally good condition, having been started and run only last month. There are no documents with this Lot.