This is the earliest version of the Norton Manx racer, probably the most revered classic British motorcycle of all. The Norton company began selling 350cc and 500cc single-cylinder racing machines based on its very successful works type before World War Two. Often referred to as Manx Grand Prix models, they only took the official Manx title when sales resumed for 1949.
Evolved from Norton’s landmark 1930 design, the handsome all-alloy engine has a single overhead camshaft driven by a vertical shaft and bevel gears. The exhaust pipe ends in a large open megaphone: a Manx on full noise can be heard coming for several miles.
Norton’s Roadholder telescopic front fork and plunger rear suspension, both seen on the double overhead camshaft works bikes before the war, were made standard on the 1949 Manx. Nicknamed the “Garden Gate”, the plunger frame was not rated highly for its 100mph-plus handling and was replaced by the superior Featherbed frame on the Manx from 1951.
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