Norton Race Cars

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Nov 21, 2005
Wonder if he put this together with as to THE WHY there were so many featherbed frames available to fix so many substandard brands handling woos??

Pics & story at ... _number=11


Look, a Norton with two too many wheels! Tube-frame Manx-powered racecar dates from the Fifties, when car-stars such as Stirling Moss and Peter Collins raced in Formula III at the international level. The 500cc ohc Single still needs a drip pan!
Cruising the Laguna Seca pits this past summer at the Monterey Historics, most of the killer stuff was car stuff, because mostly what the Historics is about is…cars. So even though I went there to satisfy the British (mostly) automotive affliction deep in my soul, there were some fun little four-wheeled racers there that also appealed to the two-wheel freak in me. Several examples of Formula III racecars of the 1950s—usually fitted with Norton Manx 500cc Singles—were on hand at Monterey.

One very cool Cooper had an engine built by Francis Beart (main photo), a noted Manx specialist tuner. Another car (#69) had a Triumph T110 Twin powering it, although it looked to have a 750cc kit. It ran through a Norton gearbox, and had been originally fitted with a Manx engine. I didn't ever find the owner of the Triumph-powered car, which is probably a good thing because I later found out the car was for sale. I am just dumb enough to think I need an open-wheeled race car powered by a T110, and could think of no cooler way to circulate a racetrack on four wheels. If I ever finish the restoration of my 1958 Thames van (an English Ford), it would be quite the cool tow vehicle, and to throw in the back my own Fifties Triumph Trophy would complete the twisted picture.

This is a 1957 Cooper originally fitted with a Manx engine and raced in the U.S. The car was later converted to a less expensive (to buy and to run) Triumph T110 Twin.
The Cooper-chassis cars whipped around the track pretty quick, and corner speed was definitely the order of the day. Sure was odd to hear that staccato sound of a 500 Manx coming from a car. It was a very likable sound, but one I don't want to get too used to. But this may actually be the perfect vehicle—a British car that is also a bike! I need to be cut off from my own bank account…

—Mark Hoyer
Captain, This formula was the hottest contested post-war formula for drivers in the UK wishing to break in to the sport. Legend has it that Norton would only sell a complete Manx so the 4-wheeled boys would buy a bike use the engine etc. and sell the rest, hence the plethora of spare Norton rolling chassis which were put to good use as specials along the lines of 'Tritons', 'Norvins', 'Norbsas' and some other lash-ups too strange to mention.
Dave, that is what I was always lead to understand.. Having alot of fun with this on the CycleWorld forum right now..

How did the Sunbeam do at Macau?
Captain, These cars were the sort of thing that saw action in the early days of the Macau Grand Prix (mid 50s).
The Sunbeam went very well in this year's Macau 40th motorcycle GP anniversary bash, photos from the classic bike parade can be seen at; go to galleries, then Macau Grand Prix Classic Parade. It's a bit like the Isle of Man TT but with the addition of scantilly clad young Asian women and Chinese food!
There were 3 Commandos participating, my cafe racer, a 750 Roadster (also built by me) and a Gus Khun 850 Interstate that had actually raced in the Macau GP in the early 70s although in a more sporting livery at that time. There was also a Triton with a pre-unit 650 engine bored to 750 in a wideline frame originally from a 350 single. I purchased a book on the history of the Macau GP and there is an amazing shot of a Norton being hoisted out of the sea where the rider has overcooked it and ended up in the drink, this was actually a regular occurence at this street circuit before the advent of safety features.[/code]
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