The Silverstone Classic Sale 2016

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2015 Norton Dominator SS No. 50 of 50

Lot No.: 503

Registration: FJ65 BJZ
Frame Number: SAYDNR012FY100050
Side Car: No
Engine Number: 501-1114
Number of cylinders: 2
CC: 961
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Sold for (£): 31,500

The original Dominator was a 500 twin designed by Bert Hopwood during the winter of 1947/48 to compete against Triumph's Speed Twin. Bert had been on the Speed Twin design team at Triumph, and Norton hoped that he could bring some of that expertise to the table. They must have been pleased with his efforts as the Dominator sold well from its initial launch in mid-1949, and developments of this design set the pattern for Norton twins for the next 30 years.

Any Norton enthusiast will be able to tell you about the Dominator's timeline as it developed through the Model 7, 88, 99, 77, 650 Manxman and the 'Daddy' of them all, the 1961 Dominator 650SS. 

It's now five years since Norton returned to production under the control of Stuart Garner, a youthful entrepreneur who'd made a fortune in fireworks before buying the ailing marque in 2008. His first model, the Commando 961, was a stylish retro roadster, conceived by an American engineer and Norton expert who had run out of money. Garner revamped the Commando prototype, brought it to market and has since been producing small but increasing numbers while expanding the business around it. The latest piece of brilliant motorcycle design to emerge from Norton is the Dominator SS. 

This Dominator is not some lovingly restored relic from the early Sixties, when the 650SS, whose name and silver-painted tank it echoes, was among the fastest and most exciting bikes on the road. This Norton is brand new, assembled by hand at a small factory in Leicestershire. It's the flagship of a marque that has overcome a troubled past to make recent headlines for the right reasons.

Over the past few years most major motorcycle manufacturers have introduced a model that has a 'Retro' look, and in most cases, it's purely cosmetic, and certainly this new bike looks every inch the archetypal British 'Café Racer'. However, like the closely related Domiracer, a non-road-legal model of which just 50 units were built and quickly sold in 2015, it's essentially a carefully engineered version of the Commando 961. Its 961cc, parallel-twin engine is identical to the Commando's, complete with old-style pushrod valve operation. The modest maximum output of 80bhp is unchanged, although the limited-edition SS comes with a free-breathing exhaust system that adds a few horsepower. Additional design features of the SS include a polished yoke set and instrument surrounds, polished rear sprocket, billet foot controls, carbon airbox, carbon tail end with Union Jack livery, carbon front mudguard, flyscreen and rear wheel mudguard. The tank is hand made in aluminium or painted steel with the option of a Union Flag or Chequer design. The exhaust is 'Euro 3 standards' in stainless with megaphone style silencers, it's suspended on 'Ohlins', and the brakes are 'Brembo Monobloc'. Anyone with an 'engineering eye' can look at this bike and instantly see that no expense has been spared in terms of material quality or design solutions.

With only 50 of these special Dominators built, and with demand exceeding supply, Norton were naturally keen that they went to 'good homes'. The company Principal retained No1/50 and our vendor was lucky enough to secure No50/50 which is the bike offered here. Our vendor was able to make a good case to Norton when he mentioned that his Grandfather, Edward 'Ted' Smith had owned a series of Nortons in the Thirties and was involved in racing them in the Isle of Man. In fact, in 1937, Ted had taken part in the Senior Manx Grand Prix on his 498cc Norton International, with some support from the factory, and had finished a commendable 21st with a best lap at 69.73mph! Other members of the family had owned Nortons at different times, so it was obvious that Nortons were in the family DNA.

Dominator SS No.50, which has covered less than 10 miles, is now reluctantly for sale as a move to Switzerland is on the cards and space will be limited.

This fabulous and rare motorcycle is not just a collage of sixties styling cues, but the living embodiment of a name that has stirred the soul of  bike enthusiasts for over a hundred years – The Norton Motorcycle Company.