1959 Norton Featherbed International
Lot 249
1959 Norton 500cc International
Frame no. 84600 Engine no. 51167 H10
Sold for US$ 16,675 inc. premium

Lot Details
1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International 1959 Norton Featherbed International
1959 Norton 500cc International

Frame no. 84600
Engine no. 51167 H10

• One of the most charismatic model names in motorcycling history
• Fitted with a Manx-spec con-rod and Manx alloy barrel

One of the most charismatic model names in motorcycling history, "International" was first used by Norton for its top-of-the-range sports roadster in 1932. The Inter's overhead-camshaft engine had been developed in the works racers for the preceding two years, and although it retained the classic 79x100mm bore/stroke dimensions and shaft-and-bevels cam drive of the existing CS1, was entirely new. Based on the works bikes and intended for racing, the International could nevertheless be ordered with refinements such as lights and a kick-starter equipped gearbox. By the time production halted in 1939 it was being built with a four-speed foot-change gearbox and plunger rear suspension (the "Garden Gate" frame), reappearing after the war in similar guise save for the adoption of the hydraulically-damped Roadholder front fork, which replaced the pre-war girder. The Inter remained fundamentally unchanged until 1953 when it gained the Featherbed frame, all-alloy engine and "laid down" gearbox. It kept its Amal TT carburetor and Lucas mag-dyno. Expensive to make and challenged by cheaper parallel twins of comparable performance – 29.5bhp at 5,500rpm was no longer enough - the 390lb Inter ceased to be catalogued after 1955 but could still be obtained to special order until 1959, many of the later machines incorporating Manx components.

This International is to the final specification, a specification - given that each one was manufactured to special order only - we can assume was somewhat flexible. Perhaps each bike was built with whatever "parts on hand at the time." The point is that this bike was built not in the Bracebridge Street, Birmingham factory but in the vendor's own shop over a period of 25 years as he sourced every Norton part from around the world to ensure that his Inter met that late specification. The motor has a new Manx-spec connecting rod manufactured by Cammy Norton specialist Ian Bennett together with a Manx-alloy barrel that became standard for the Inter at the end of production. The compression ratio and cam timing are Inter in the interests of easy starting and docility. The seller regrets that the bike has little provenance but assures the world that each part is genuine; "proper Norton parts, just anonymous ones". And what a superb, charming example it is. It was finished in 2015 and the seller has enjoyed riding it gently since then. It remains in "as new" condition.

Saleroom notices

  • Engine number 51167 H10 is a 350cc Clubmans International. It formed part of a machine ridden by J R Dulson in the 1953 Isle of Man Junior Clubmans TT that finished 45th at an average speed of 66.03 mph. The frame number for this lot is 8460. It is a featherbed frame but not an International featherbed frame. In addition please note that the fuel tank was recently and professionally refinished by a Norton expert to a more period correct presentation.
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