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Lot 372: 1952 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle

Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams & Butterfields (12 November 2005)

Dubbed ‘Manx Grand Prix’ in 1939, what would become the best-known racing motorcycle of all time had become simply ‘Manx’ when production resumed in 1946, though only the presence of Roadholder telescopic front forks distinguished the post-war bike from the ’39 version. The first significant change in engine specification occurred in 1949 when the Manx gained a double-overhead-camshaft cylinder head like that enjoyed by the works bikes, but the major development was the arrival for 1951 of the Featherbed frame that enabled Norton works rider Geoff Duke to take the 350cc and 500cc world titles that year. The cycle parts remained essentially unchanged from then on, apart from the adoption of a double-sided, tls front brake for 1962. Manx engine development though, continued steadily until production ceased at the end of ’62, the most significant design change being the adoption of ‘square’ bore and stroke dimensions for 1954.

The vicissitudes of racing being what they are – crashes, blow-ups, rebuilds, engine swaps, etc – it is not so surprising that so many old racing motorcycles no longer have their original engines, which makes this ‘matching-numbers’ Manx something of a rarity. The machine is presented ‘as last raced’ by its previous owner.

Lot Details
Auction Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams & Butterfields, Petersen Museum, Los Angeles, CA
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number372
Estimate$20000-$30000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1952
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors