1989 Norton F1 Rotary Pre-Production Prototype
Lot 413
1989 Norton F1 Rotary Pre-Production Prototype Frame no. P55004 Engine no. P55004
US$ 35,000 - 40,000
£21,000 - 24,000
Lot Details
1989 Norton F1 Rotary Pre-Production Prototype
Frame no. P55004
Engine no. P55004
It's not often that a factory test bike escapes the crusher. Luckily this preproduction Norton F1 Rotary missed its date with destruction. It was one of five test units out of total 1990-91 production run believed to number just 116. No VIN plate was ever applied as this motorcycle was never intended for sale, but stamped into the beautifully hand-welded twin-spar Spondon aluminum frame are the numbers #004, and included in the bike's provenance is the original title made out to Norton Motors in Shenstone, England.

According to research, #004 was the first F1 prototype used by the Norton factory to log actual test miles. Still visible today, numbers were written in pen on white pieces of paper and gel-coated inside the bodywork to identify which version of the fiberglass mold was being used for evaluation.

Norton Rotary expert Graham Wilshire at Startright Cycles in Leeds, England, acquired the bike in the confusion of the factory ceasing its motorcycle operations in the late 1990s. He carefully rebuilt the motor with new rotary seals after moly-coating all swept surfaces. This latter procedure is the single most important change that can be done for reliability and longevity of rotary engines. Another important upgrade was installation of a concave aluminum factory World Superbike radiator and larger fan. This was done using existing mounting holes so no damage was done to frame, and the original radiator could be re-installed if desired. Rotaries are known for running warm and this modification made #004 much more streetable. Included in this sale is the original copper radiator plus a spare radiator, original smaller fan, spare Boyer electronic ignition and a new battery. Mikuni carbs and oil injector actually make this F1 a higher performance motorcycle that the production F1 Sport.

The current owner acquired the bike with 7000 miles on the odometer and has put 20,000 additional miles on it, including high-speed roadwork on the German Autobahn between Köln and Heidelberg. He and the F1 were invited to participate in the "Men & Machines" event at Daytona and did high-speed laps on the banks of Daytona International Raceway among the likes of Dick Klamforth, Gary Nixon and other famous racers. The F1 was also test ridden by former "Cycle World" magazine editor David Edwards at the 2000 Norton International Rally in Torrey, Utah.

Among the bike's awards are trophies for Best Rotary at the 1996 International Norton Owners Rally, Best Technical Interest at the 1996 Steamboat Springs Concours, Best Rotary at the 1998 Norton Pacific Rim National Rally, First Place British Motorcycle Future Classics at the 1999 AMA/AHRMA Mid-Ohio Vintage Motorcycle Days and First Place Modern European at the 2004 Sandia Classic bike show.

Included in the sale are original brochure material and a series of correspondence with the factory, as well as the Norton title.


  • Sold on a Bill of Sale

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this motorcycle is offered on a Bill of Sale
  1. Motor Cars (US)
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