The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1

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Lot 401
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter
Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1

Sold for £ 80,500 (US$ 101,341) inc. premium
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys,
c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter
Frame no. 11M2 45067
Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
• The first 'Saltdean Special'
• Extensive in-period competition history
• Retired from competition in 1994
• Engine rebuilt in 2009

Basil Keys was a motorcycle enthusiast all his life and started sprinting a 350 Rudge in the early 1930s. He competed at many levels and was an accomplished rider. Having won the Clubman's TT Lightweight Class in 1947 on an AJS he capitalised on his success, setting up 'Keys Motorcycles' with his brother Herbert in Worthing and taking on an AJS franchise for the South Coast. The name 'Basil Keys' became synonymous with the Brighton Speed Trials and he probably remains the competitor with the highest number of consecutive appearances, starting way back in the early 1930s. In the period 1959 to the mid-1990s he rode the ex-Francis Williams Mk1 'Saltdean Special', the machine offered here. This was the first of three Norton-JAP sprinters conceived and built by Francis J Williams, of Saltdean, Sussex and was the machine to beat in its day.

Probably the first sprinting superbike of the post-war era, the Mk1 Norton-JAP was constructed in 1951/52 and is probably the very earliest example of marrying the newly available Norton 'Featherbed' frame with an alternative engine. Not content with the already healthy power output of around 80bhp, Frank Williams substituted the stock cylinder heads and barrels for those from a JAP speedway engine. Fitted with Amal GP carburettors and running on methanol the revised engine produced around 95bhp. In this guise the Norton-JAP was campaigned by Frank Williams at many venues including Ramsgate Undercliffe, Brighton Speed Trials, Lewes Speed Trials and elsewhere as sprinting became increasingly popular in the 1950s.

Virtually unbeatable in those early years, FJW and the Norton-JAP continued their partnership until 1959 when, realising that his advancing years and the speed of the bike were perhaps incompatible, he decided to move the machine on. The new owner was Basil Keys from Worthing, who was himself a dedicated sprinting enthusiast. Basil had been competing at the Brighton Speed Trials since the early 1930s and relished the opportunity to get his hands on a machine capable of winning there and perhaps taking the course record as well. It would turn out to be a most fruitful partnership, with Basil winning many events on the Mk1 Norton-JAP and taking the outright course record at the Brighton event in September 1959, covering the standing-start kilometre in 21.59 seconds at an average speed of 103.61mph.
Basil Keys continued to ride the machine at Brighton until 1994 when he too decided that it was time to switch to something a little more manageable. The Norton-JAP slipped quietly into retirement and was proudly displayed in Basil's business premises in Worthing.

Alan Norman was Basil Keys' mechanic, stripping and preparing the Norton-JAP prior to sprint meetings. Until 2010 the engine was partly disassembled and Alan has reassembled it using in-period notes in order to set the timing, etc. As far as Alan is aware the machine retains its original components (frame, engine, etc) with the possible exception of a Norton Commando clutch. He recalls it being sprinted at Brighton, Ramsgate, Shelsley Walsh, Welsbourne Mountford, Westonzoyland, Duxford, Waterbeach in Cambridge and possibly Greenham Common.

Historic sprinting motorcycles of this stature and competition pedigree are only rarely offered for sale, and Francis Williams' first 'Saltdean Special', campaigned so effectively by Basil Keys, represents a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a machine of this importance.

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.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the Brighton Speed Trial image printed in the catalogue is not of this machine, but of the MKII (Thor).
Contacts
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
The ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, ,c.1952 Norton-JAP 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter Frame no. 11M2 45067 Engine no. JTOS/S 79487/1
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