2,185 miles from new
1974 Norton 749cc John Player Commando 'Short-Stroke'
Frame no. 317783
Engine no. 317783
Reflecting the Norton race team's sponsorship by the John Player tobacco company, a new Commando model the 'John Player Norton' or 'JPN' for short had been announced for the 1974 season. Equipped with a streamlined half-fairing and matching tank/seat unit in John Player livery, the café racer-styled JPN came with a choice of engines: the standard 829cc motor or a short-stroke 749cc unit produced in limited numbers for homologation purposes and intended for production racing. Boasting bore/stroke dimensions of 77x80.4mm, the high-performance 749cc engine incorporated the 4S camshaft; larger inlet valves at modified angle; Hidural exhaust valve guides; improved valve springs; solid skirt 10.5:1 pistons; forged steel con-rods; and electronic ignition. A top-of-the-range limited edition model produced for only a couple of seasons, the 'JPN' is nowadays one of the most sought-after members of the Commando family and especially in short-stroke form.
Equipped with the rare, 749cc short-stroke engine, this original JPN Commando was purchased by the vendor's father in Australia in 1978. It was run on occasions in Australia but not used regularly before the family moved to the UK in 1979. Back in the UK, the Norton was started only rarely, the
last time being in 1986. From that time onward the Norton was kept first in the music room and then in the dining room. When the owner moved house in 1984 it was found that the Norton's glassfibre parts had crazed and a new set was obtained and fitted. The original parts are included with the machine together with a new complete exhaust system. Mileage from new, as recorded on the odometer, is 2,185. The exhaust system fitted to the machine is a 2-into-1-into-2, which reputedly was designed by renowned expert Professor Gordon Blair of Queens University Belfast to improve bottom-end power. This system can be seen in photographs on file taken of the machine in Australia in 1978.
Some years ago the vendor's family was visited by John Hudson, formerly of Norton VilIiers, who
confirmed this machine to be one of the 749cc short-stroke versions of the model. There are no documents with this motorcycle, which will need re-commissioning and the usual safety checks before further use following its lengthy period in storage. It is evident that, when the fibreglass parts were replaced, not all the wiring and instrument drive cables were reconnected and this will need to be done as part of the re-commissioning. The airbox is missing and it is hoped that the vendor will have located this by time of the sale.