Perhaps one of the most famous and successful competition motorcycles of all time, the Norton Manx debuted in 1947. The evocative name celebrated motorcycling’s most grueling event, the Isle of Man TT, in which a Norton had competed every year since 1907. The first model to evoke this great event was the Manx Grand Prix, which itself was a variant of the pre-war Norton International Roadster 1936-1940. When production resumed in 1946, the model was known simply as the “Manx.” These early post-war models were very similar to their prewar counterparts, with “garden gate” frame, upright gearbox, and single-cam engine. The biggest distinction for the new post-war models was the addition of the Road Holder telescopic front fork. On track success in the hands of factory racers and privateers was steady, and the biggest development came in with the arrival of the famous “Featherbed” frame.
The Featherbed was a revolutionary design featuring welded steel tubing that was significantly lighter than the competition, yet offered greater torsional rigidity than the older brazed frame. Handling and ride were outstanding, and the Manx was the machine to beat in its namesake event on the Isle of Man, as well as numerous other open road and circuit races around England and Europe. Interestingly, Norton found unintended success on four wheels as well as two, with the 500 cc single-cylinder “thumper” proving to be a popular choice in the budding Formula 3 championship in England. The rapid (and noisy!) rear-engine Cooper-Nortons set the stage for the rear-engine revolution that soon encompassed all forms of top level automobile racing.
This 1952 Manx 30M is a sharp and desirable example, featuring the early featherbed frame paired with the long-stroke 500cc single-cylinder engine. It is a very well-presented bike, with numerous factory correct and period appropriate parts. The engine is a correct 30M unit, fitted with a correct Amal GP carburetor, updated with a high-capacity S.U. float bowl, which was a common modification done to increase fuel flow at sustained high speeds. A BTH magneto is in place of the original Lucas, and the exhaust features a shortened megaphone for additional performance. Not much of the early history is known, however a Certificate of Authenticity provided by the Norton Owner's Club reveals it was sold new in New Zealand via W. Whites Ltd.
Finished in classic silver and black livery, this fabulous bike is nicely presented and detailed with numerous period-correct items. It wears an older high quality restoration, with attractive paintwork on the oil and fuel tanks. With its low bars, single-seat saddle, and Borrani alloy wire wheels, the stance is aggressive and purposeful. Correct Manx parts include the 8,000 rpm Smiths tachometer, wheel hubs, Road Holder fork, yellow front number plate, and mesh aero screen.
The Norton Manx continues to be a very popular choices for vintage racers, as they remain highly competitive and enjoy excellent parts, service, and restoration support. In the hands of its most recent owner, this bike was on static display in a climate controlled environment, so it will require some customary recommissioning and preparation prior to any serious use, however it has been started and it runs and goes nicely – currently fitted with long-legged Dayonta gearing. One sorted, this Norton would make for a welcome entrant in the ever-growing vintage motorcycle racing scene. This is a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of the most iconic British bikes from the height of Norton’s dominance of open road-racing in the 1950s. Beautiful and brutal, the Norton Manx is a true motorcycling legend.
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