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Norton International 350cc

1933, ERA Shed, On long term display

This machine was supplied by the Norton works for the 1933 Manx Grand Prix with a specially tuned engine very similar to the works TT motorcycles. In later years the description “Manx” was added to designate such racing machines, but in 1933 it was simply the racing version. It was then used in road races and was first raced at Brooklands in 1936 in the Hutchinson Hundred by JB Moss, who became a works AJS rider. By the end of 1937 it was becoming uncompetitive in road races so it remained at Brooklands where the rigid frame was not a significant disadvantage and handicap events compensated for its lower engine output.

When war ended racing on the track, it was sold to Ray Petty for use as a means of getting to and from the Vickers works at Brooklands. After the war Ray became one of the leading tuners of the post-war Manx Norton which had evolved from the pre-war International Manx. In 1947 it was sold to Denis (Jenks) Jenkinson who raced it in events both at home and on the continent where he also passengered Eric Oliver and won the world sidecar championship in 1949 on a Manx Norton outfit. At a race in Belgium Jenks blew up the original 350 engine which was replaced by the current 1950 500cc engine.

When Jenks loaned this machine to the museum in 1990, he described it as a typical clubman’s racer of the period. While it is true that International Nortons were favoured by clubmen, his machine was indeed a pure racer, although today it is fitted with a kickstart and could be used on the road.

Loaned by Roger Bird