1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785

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Lot 396
1932 Norton 490cc International
Registration no. OV 6794 Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785

Sold for £ 32,200 (US$ 45,347) inc. premium
1932 Norton 490cc International
Registration no. OV 6794
Frame no. 46088
Engine no. 52785
Gearbox no. EV4001

• One of the earliest Inters
• Engine originally built by "J. Craig"
• Period road test machine
• From long term ownership

Norton swept all before them on the Island in 1931 finishing 1st, 2nd, & 3rd in the Senior, and 1st and 2nd in the Junior. This was the start of a golden era for the company as they went on to dominate road racing for several years both here and on the Continent, with victory after victory, very often at record speeds.

Following Alec Bennett's 1927 Senior TT win with the Walter Moore engined CS1, Norton had endured a couple of relatively barren racing years which culminated in Moore's departure to NSU. A new engine was required, and it emerged from the combined talents of Joe Craig and Arthur Carroll, who was promoted to Chief Draughtsman. Only the bore and stroke of Moore's "cricket bat" engines were retained, the new unit being heavily influenced by the established and successful Velocette design. In 1930 the new Nortons weren't quite fast enough and it was Rudge's turn to shine, but as described above, it all came together for them in 1931.

New for the 1932 model year, the models 30 (490cc) and 40 (348cc) were true race replicas heavily based on these successful 1931 TT machines. Reflecting not only the TT successes, but also those elsewhere, they were named "International". The "Inter" as it became known universally, was subject to only minor changes over the years leading up to the war. It was a stunning design featuring not only the camshaft engine, but also other cutting-edge features such as a downdraught carburettor, four speed positive stop gearbox, a large and distinctive oil tank, and of course one of the most beautiful petrol tanks ever to grace a motorcycle, complete with that trademark Norton piecrust base. These earliest Inters, especially the larger one, were surely further ahead of their contemporary competition than any that followed subsequently.

The factory despatch records indicate that OV 6794, the machine offered here, is a matching numbers motorcycle. It was invoiced to Norton Motors Ltd. on 20th January 1932 and booked out to "Motor Cycling" on extended loan, presumably as a long-term road-test machine. The company was obviously keen to impress: the records tell us that the engine was built by none other than "J. Craig".

OV 6794 was the actual machine used in two magazine road-tests of 1932. In a three-page feature dated 3rd February 1932 "Motor Cycling" printed three separate photographs of it. The article is headed "Castor takes the York Road again... this time on the standard 490 "International" Norton. "Cyclops" clocks it at 100mph". Writing about this specific bike "Castor" reflected that most of the "Replicas" he had ridden fell short in handling, brakes, or performance, but "With this Norton, positively and absolutely, I am unable to sense that difference. Amongst copies, this is the master copy." His colleague Cyclops goes on to describe how he clocked Jimmy Simpson riding it at 100 mph. On August 18th "The Motor Cycle" published their own glowing road-test of the International Norton. Once again, the test machine was OV 6794.

Basil Keys acquired OV 6794 in the 1970s. It is accompanied by a V5 registration document. As far as we know the machine has not been run for some time. Careful checking, re-commissioning, and safety checks will be required. Prospective bidders should satisfy themselves as to the motorcycle's mechanical condition.

Footnotes

  • As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
Contacts
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
1932 Norton 490cc International Frame no. 46088 Engine no. 52785
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