1939 Norton 500cc ES2 and trials sidecar
Registration no. 780 UXD
Frame no. 108360
Engine no. 74087
Norton's range of single cylinder highway models traditionally enjoyed a traditionally fine reputation, no more so than in the 1930s when the Birmingham factory was proving so successful in competition. Although Norton were a relatively small concern compared, say, with AJS, Ariel, or BSA, they commendably offered machines in 350, 500 and 600cc, with a mix of side-valve, overhead, or camshaft engines, the latter type responsible for Norton's domination of the contemporary Grand Prix racing scene. The fact that the especially shaped oil and fuel tanks of the "works" racers had an identical colour scheme to Norton's over-the-counter models ensured there was a visible link between racetrack and road; an effective sales ploy that other manufactures were unable to match. At the same time Norton's pre-war trials team, astride their colonial-spec ohv models, were some of that era's more successful contestants in the important world of Observation & Reliability Trials. It should also be mentioned that ohv factory Nortons were a force to be reckoned with in early post war scrambling, with Geoff Duke joining the Bracebridge Street firm in the unusual role of Scrambles Tester!
This evocative Norton combination has an enviable competition history, dating from the early post war period, thanks to a raft of results racked up by its builder and former owner Archie Appleby. Together with elder brother Tom, the Norton-mounted Applebys were formidable contestants in trials and grass track events. They also raced a "chair" at Thruxton and elsewhere, on another Norton combo. For many years (and until his retirement), Archie was workshop foreman at Alec Bennett Motorcycles in Southampton. Tom was senior mechanic in the superbly equipped Service Dept, which at its peak extended to over 20 personnel. It is no surprise that the brothers had Alec Bennett's personal approval to fettle their machinery on the premises, in addition to accessing an abundance of new and used Norton parts. It was in 1975, having long ceased competing, that Archie founder member of the Southampton & District MCC finally sold the complete Norton combo to a club colleague who then undertook a thorough if lengthy rebuild; the most important aspect of which was a replacement of the post war "teles" with period "girders". Upon completion of that work it is thought that the (by now) authentic-looking bike, which is almost certainly fitted to a Norton-made comp sidecar, was simply used for the occasional Graham Walker Run, Club displays, and so on. Acquired by the vendor 10 years ago, UXD is offered with a selection of spares, an MOT Certificate expiring in July 2012, and V5C, together with correspondence from the late Peter Roydhouse chronicling part of the Norton's competition career and despatch history.
- The engine number is 76087