Soon, you can buy a 1973 John Player Norton replica

The 1973 John Player Norton was a classic motorcycle, but its design is still futuristic.
The 1973 John Player Norton was a classic motorcycle, but its design is still futuristic.

Would you like a 1973 John Player Norton replica? Sure, who wouldn’t?

That monocoque chassis originally took 12 man-weeks to produce, but modern manufacturing techniques have sped that up.
That monocoque chassis originally took 12 man-weeks to produce, but modern manufacturing techniques have sped that up.

The 1973 John Player Norton gained fame with designer/rider Peter Williams taking a first place at the Isle of Man TT back in 1973. The monocoque design was revolutionary then, and still hasn’t really caught on. For Williams to design the bike, then win with it, was an amazing feat.

But, there were only four of these machines ever made (one is on display at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum). That’s about to change, though – Williams now says he is going to build 25 replicas.

Like the original, the replicas will have a hot-rodded 750 cc vert twin motor, from a Norton Commando (built by Mick Hemmings). The real highlight of the bikes will be their stainless steel monocoque frames, though.

Originally, those frames took 12 man-weeks to build. But with up-to-date manufacturing techniques, Williams has been able to speed that up. Their website says:

“Using modern CAD techniques and manufacturing processes, Peter Williams Motorcycles have developed a frame faithful to the original but able to be produced in a fraction of the time.

Here, an original John Player Norton gets traced digitally.
Here, an original John Player Norton gets traced digitally.

Where possible original tooling has been used to create new parts, such as the distinctive cast magnesium wheels developed by Peter to accommodate the, at the time, revolutionary disc braking system. If tooling or drawings were not available then, thanks to Mike Braid and the National Motorcycle Museum, two of the original bikes have been made available for reference and digitisation using a FARO arm. Original parts have been reverse engineered in CAD to create new items to the correct specification under Peter’s watchful eye.”

In other words, when you buy one of the new replicas, you’re essentially buying a digitally traced copy of the real thing.

How much money will this set you back? Well, put it this way: I doubt you’ll see one as the CMG shop bike any time soon.


GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.

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Here, an original John Player Norton gets traced digitally.

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That monocoque chassis originally took 12 man-weeks to produce, but modern manufacturing techniques have sped that up.

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Like the original, the replicas will feature 750 cc Commando motors.

john player norton 2

Want to build a replica John Player Norton? You start by carefully photographing the original at a museum.

john player norton

The 1973 John Player Norton was a classic motorcycle, but its design is still futuristic.

Here, an original John Player Norton gets traced digitally.That monocoque chassis originally took 12 man-weeks to produce, but modern manufacturing techniques have sped that up.Like the original, the replicas will feature 750 cc Commando motors.Want to build a replica John Player Norton? You start by carefully photographing the original at a museum.The 1973 John Player Norton was a classic motorcycle, but its design is still futuristic.

2 thoughts on “Soon, you can buy a 1973 John Player Norton replica”

  1. ” Where possible original tooling has been used to create new parts, such as the distinctive cast magnesium wheels developed by Peter to accommodate the, at the time, revolutionary disc braking system.”

    Cast wheels and disc brakes in 1973 were hardly revolutionary, and to recreate using the same old P.O.S. Commando motor sounds like an incredible waste of time and energy (IMHO)….

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