Lot 329: Norton John Player 850cc Commando
When introduced in 1968 the Norton Commando was not much more than a rubber-mounted Atlas in a theoretically inferior chassis, using the same power plant, gearbox, and forks at its predecessor. Yet somehow, synergistically, the combination proved magical, and erased many of the shortcomings of the rigid-mounted vertical twin cylinder engine by isolating the entire engine/gearbox/swingarm/rear wheel from the rest of the motorcycle, using a patented 'Isolastic' system of rubber mounts. Thus the increasingly harsh vibration which accompanied the growing cubic capacity of British motorcycles was eliminated completely, and the new package became a firm favorite among enthusiasts of the 'man's motorcycle' beefy, fast, good handling, noisy, rakish. It performed so well in fact that it was named 'Motorcycle of the Year' five years running by Motor Cycle News. Considerable competition success followed, in Production racing especially, where the Commando acquitted itself very well against all comers British, German, Japanese, Italian. Racing was in Norton's blood from the very beginning, and in 1973 for the first time Norton accepted, gratefully, the sponsorship of the John Player cigarette company for their racing efforts. 'Players' of course plastered the racing motorcycles with their own color scheme for advertising, and shortly thereafter Norton introduced a street-legal version of their racer the John Player Norton, with a unique set of bodywork and red/white/blue paint scheme. While underneath that sexy fiberglass was a bog-standard 850cc Commando, the JPN became a cult classic, being a rare instance where a British manufacturer produced an actual Café Racer, doing a fine job indeed. This machine is a completely genuine and standard JPN, with less than 24,000 miles on the odometer, still in its original paint, and is in excellent condition. Sold on a California Certificate of Title.
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Bonhams & Butterfields, Los Angeles
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