Norton 1927 Model 18 490 cc OHV single frame # 26580 engine # 37082
Like the majority of their contemporaries, Norton relied on the side valve engine until the 1920s, when the existing and well-tried 490cc unit was used as the basis for the firm’s first overhead-valve design. Penned by James Lansdowne Norton himself and first seen in prototype form in 1922, the overhead-valve Norton made little impact in that year’s Senior TT, though at Brooklands D R O’Donovan raised the world 500cc kilometre record to over 89mph using the new motor. For 1923 the OHV model was catalogued as the Model 18. At its introduction it got the factory code word of “Speedy”, which certainly showed some foresight: speeds up to 100 mph were attainable with carefully tuned engines. In the course of 1923 a number of speed events were won, but in 1924 the Model 18 really showed what it was capable of. In June Alec Bennett won the senior TT on a model 18 with an average speed of 61.64 mph; the sidecar TT was won by George Tucker on a 588 cc version of the model. Both the French and Belgian GPs were won, and Bert Denley captured the coveted British One Hour Record at 87.07 mph. In 1925 a new drum brake and Webb centre spring forks were new features; in 1926 a mechanical oil pump on the magneto drive cover was added.
New for the 1927 models were steering damper, adjustable handlebars, separate petrol and oil tanks with auxiliary hand pump, larger front brake and magneto shield. With Albert Denly on board, Norton set several records at Montlhery in 1927, including 100 miles in an hour on a Model 18.
This example was restored some 20 years ago. The former owner has taken it to many vintage festivals including Coupes Moto Legende in Dijon-Prenois, Vintage Revival at Montlhery and the VMCC Festival of 1000 Bikes. In recent years the M18 has become one of the most sought after Nortons and the machine we present here, fitted with BTH racing magneto and Andre steering damper, is a very well detailed specimen.