Monday, August 25, 2008

HOW YOU FIND THEM #10: 1950 Norton Model 7

"It's Dante from Manila...I found this unique specimen in an old auto shop. Engine number: 27531 e 12. It's an old Norton Domi Racer... I think... the gauges say so ;)"

The bike in question is a beautifully preserved 1950 Model 7 Dominator of 497cc, first of the line of Norton twins designed by Bert Hopwood, and the second year of production, the Mod 7 having been introduced to the public in late 1948 (the engine number 'E' denotes 1950, the '12' = Model 7). The frame is basically the same Garden Gate plunger as used on the Manx, with long Roadholder forks, and the petrol tank panels would originally have been painted silver over the chrome. The speedo (likely supplied by DomiRacer!) sits in a small fork-top panel, and the sheet metal looks remarkably correct. Somebody loved this bike.

These early 'iron' 500cc vertical twins are really special - the first Triumph Speed Twins and the BSA A7 share many similar characteristics, and having owned and ridden examples of each, I think they're the best of the whole twin-cylinder mania which gripped England post-war. The engines are quiet, with iron cylinders and heads, they are mildly tuned and give reasonable power, but most of all they're very smooooth and won't cause your hands to go numb or your fillings to fall out like their enlarged cousins over the years. Nice score, Dante.

Some specs on the Norton; bore and stroke are 66mmx72.6mm, 497cc, ohv vertical twin with 360 degree crankshaft throws (piston both rise and fall together, but they fire on alternate strokes - all Brit vertical twins used this except the Triumph Bandit, which was never produced beyond the prototype stage. The Bandit used a 180 degree crankshaft, where one piston is up while the other is down, as per Honda CB/CL twins). The engine produced 29hp @ 6000rpm, although you'd be truly mean to rev this lovely old thing that hard. Original cost in England was £215... and the new model was very well received by the press.

If you have a Model 7 and want company, there is a Yahoo egroup for this model.
And, thanks to youtube, below is a short video of a Model 7, which is in lovely condition.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning Paul,

Thank you for your great blog, I enjoy reading it when ever possible. I really liked the Norton article, I thought you might like to see my "find", not as rare as the Norton (and a little worse for wear) it is a '54 Matchless G9 "Super Clubman" originally it was sold in Montevideo, Uruguay (still has the original dealer tag riveted to the top triple tree). It is mostly complete, but it has been ridden. The black enamel is almost perfect, there is chipping on the front fender and few nicks here and there. I live here in the bay, and am trying, albeit slowly, to get it ready to ride next year. Right now it is going through a cleaning phase.

Thanks for your great blog.

- Doug

Brian said...

Enjoyed your post about the Norton Model 7. I agree that the older low-stressed British twins make for fine machines. I have covered over 10,000 miles on a 1950 Dominator like Dante's, and it is a great touring motorcycle. It'll cross high mountain passes at 60 mph, and it's comfortable, simple, and fast.
Regretably, that's my Norton in the YouTube video. I had not run the bike in a while, but my brother-in-law was visiting, and he is an avid motorcyclist, so I thought I'd fire up the Dominator. Usually it's an easy starter thanks to a good magneto and low compression, and when it doesn't cooperate it's a sure sign something is amiss. I discovered later that one of the high-tension leads was backing out of its magneto pickup. In the mean time, my brother-in-law captured for posterity what the general population will interpret as another difficult British bike. Argh.
Keep up the stellar research and reporting!

Anonymous said...

Regarding your post "How You Find Them #10: 1950 Norton Model 7", you had included a video that my brother in law shot of me trying to start my Dominator. I have since posted my own video, which includes a brief explanation of the controls and the starting sequence. Thought you might want to link to it instead on your Model 7 post, not just to assuage my bruised ego, but because there's actually a little info in it and to show the more typical results--it starts right up. The video is at If you ever get inordinately interested in Model 7s, there's a Yahoo Group at
Keep up the great work. It's much appreciated.
Brian Doan

Anonymous said...

I am a collector from Hyderabad, India
Own a Constellation 700 twin, and various other brands scooters and motorcycles
Looking for a reasonably priced Dominator model 7 1950 or 1951 year of manufacture
Can someone out there can help one locate, even if it is a project bike
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