Friday, November 07, 2008

HOW YOU FIND THEM #11: 1957 Norton Model 30

My friend John (who has the wicked Norvin in my Velo Summer Rally post) recently returned from Madison, Wisconsin, where he retrieved this 1957 Norton International Model 30. The machine has been laid up since 1965, but was originally imported to Hap Jones in San Francisco, so the bike is coming home.

Norton hadn't cataloged this model since 1955, and many mistakenly believe production ceased in that year, but I've seen several California imports from '56 and '57 - the 'lost' Inters, and certainly the last ones.
They were made to special order only, and of course are housed in Wideline Featherbed frames. The cycle parts appear to be identical to the Dominator twin models, but in fact much is different, starting with the petrol tank, which is deeper and has a larger capacity than the twins. The frame tabs are in different locations, the oil tank is unique to this model, and the gearbox has a differnt cluster with longer mainshaft and close-ratio gears (well, the top 3 are close, the bottom is very l.o.w.).

All Inters are rare, as not that many cammy Nortons were made, but the last Featherbed models are especially rare. In truth, the factory did precious little development on the engine since the 1930's, and thus power output/performance is little changed from even the earliest Model 30 from 1931. With a silencer, top whack is around 85-90mph, but losing the baffles in the muffler will buy you another 10mph, while a high-compression piston gains a bit more still, and a genuine 100mph roadster is yours.

A good friend of mine, Fred Twigg, has a '54 Inter which made 11th place in that year's Isle of Man Clubman's TT. It had an 11:1 comp piston, which was quickly changed for something reasonable! Fred rode this machine everywhere, and it was a paragon of reliability. I rode it on many occasions (we would swap my Velo Thruxton for his Inter), and I always enjoyed the great urge from the long-stroke engine (79x100mm), which produced great stomping torque from almost no revs. The Inter would hit 100mph easily while sitting upright, and handled faultlessly. A charismatic machine.

John, you're a lucky man.


Anonymous said...

Damn, I kept hearing rumors of this bike in Madison and was trying to get it. Oh well, I heard it was in a basement of a 90 something year old man, but was owned by his 70 something year old son. Supposedly the son is a college professor in California. Is this the same bike? Also a coincidence I will have another story on a Model 30 in Saturdays edition of Let me know if it is the same bike. Thanks Dale

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,
I was looking online for Paul Adams and Google showed that you had his name on your blog. Of course I looked and saw your latest post. I can't believe how fast you work. What a very nice posting!

I do feel lucky to find this bike and I want to do the restoration right. I am now a little worried that I don't have the right gas tank. It is a mess as someone has fiberglassed over it. It is kind of small and low profile. it does not seem larger than a Dominator tank. Also I noticed some welding underneath the tank that I don't think should be there.
Always a pleasure and thanks for everything, John

Anonymous said...

Paul,hello I am Max from Argentina, I found your blog a couple of month ago. And in this few month I found me reading this, at less ones a week. I think you have a wonderfull site full of great pictures and ino. Thanks for your helps. Regards

Max Fourcade
1931 Norton CS1
1933 Norton ES2
1938 WWII Norton 16h

Anonymous said...

Hello Paul,

I live in Durango Colorado. I was looking for Fred Twigg who operated Manx Motors in Sebastopol CA until about 2002 when he moved to Portugal. Is this the same Fred you mentioned in your post about the Norton Inter? If so do you have a way to contact Fred?

I enjoyed reading on your website. My past British bikes include a 65 BSA Goldstar and a 67 BSA Lightning. Fred rebuilt the Lightening engine for me.

Please if you have Fred's email address ( does he use email?) either send it to me or forward my email on to Fred. Or if you have a regular mailing address for Fred can you do me the favor of sending it to me? Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Curisor & curisor? If this is the same bike I think it is I was trying to buy it as well. I had several conversations with the seller ending with the information that he sold it to someone in the UK. Apparently not? Anyway, glad to see it's staying in Nor Cal...I've always lusted after owning a featherbed Inter after having the privilege of following Twiggy around the great Sonoma roads. You had to work hard to keep him in sight as he had home field advantage. But you always knew you were close, as long as you could smell bean oil. C-ya, Jerrykap


Hi, I have an equal motorcycle, and also I want to restore it, though it seems that it is difficult to find supplies(replacements). It looks like to me a very beautiful motorcycle. I expect we prune ourselves to help, I live in Colombia.


Hola, I have an equal motorcycle, and also I want to restore her(it), though it seems that it is difficult to find supplies(replacements). It looks like to me a very beautiful motorcycle. I expect we prune ourselves to help, I live in Colombia.

Scott Nathan said...

Great great work. Glad I found you.