Bonhams Pioneer, Vintage
& Classic Motorcycle Auctions

Bonhams Motorcycle Department

April 2010 - 1952 Norton-Jap

1952 Norton-Jap 996cc Mk1 'Saltdean Special' Sprinter goes under the hammer at the Bonhams Motorcycle auction on the 25th April 2010 at the Staffordshire County Showground.
Probably the first sprinting superbike of the post-war era, the Mk1 Norton-JAP was constructed in 1951/52 and is probably the very earliest example of marrying the newly available Norton 'Featherbed' frame with an alternative engine. Not content with the already healthy power output of around 80bhp, Frank Williams substituted the stock cylinder heads and barrels for those from a JAP speedway engine. Fitted with Amal GP carburettors and running on methanol the revised engine produced around 95bhp. In this guise the Norton-JAP was campaigned by Frank Williams at many venues including Ramsgate Undercliffe, Brighton Speed Trials, Lewes Speed Trials and elsewhere as sprinting became increasingly popular in the 1950s.

Virtually unbeatable in those early years, FJW and the Norton-JAP continued their partnership until 1959 when, realising that his advancing years and the speed of the bike were perhaps incompatible, he decided to move the machine on. The new owner was Basil Keys from Worthing, who was himself a dedicated sprinting enthusiast. Basil had been competing at the Brighton Speed Trials since the early 1930s and relished the opportunity to get his hands on a machine capable of winning there and perhaps taking the course record as well. It would turn out to be a most fruitful partnership, with Basil winning many events on the Mk1 Norton-JAP and taking the outright course record at the Brighton event in September 1959, covering the standing-start kilometre in 21.59 seconds at an average speed of 103.61mph.

For further information regarding the sale at Stafford in April – go

© 2010

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