Norton 1942 “16H” 490cc side valve frame # W73171 engine # W7713
In 1911 James Lansdowne Norton entered a side valve 490cc single in the new 500cc Senior Class race of the Isle of Man TT. He was unplaced but the following year the motorcycle had been improved and won the Brooklands TT and set three world records. A drive chain was developed to replace the belt drive and although production was delayed by the First World War the Model 16 as it became known gained a Sturmey Archer gearbox and had a racing heritage that included 21 world records. In 1921 Norton launched the ‘Colonial’ which was a Model 16 with higher ground clearance for use on poor quality roads, and designated the UK model as the 16H (for ‘Home’). Norton’s trusty side valve would be continuously updated for the next 30-plus years – many seeing service with allied forces in WW2 – before taking its final bow, alongside the Big 4, in 1954.
A 16H was first offered for military evaluation in 1932, together with a Norton Model 18 and a Norton Model 19. It was found to be suitable and the Norton designers began working with the War Office on a range of developments and modifications. Military orders were placed for the 16H from 1936 and continued throughout the course of the Second World War, setting a ten year record for the longest time the War Office procured a single make of motorcycle. The entire staff of the Norton factory in Bracebridge Street Birmingham were needed to meet demand – even the racing team found themselves on the 16H production line. A popular despatch machine, the 16H was also used for training, reconnaissance, convoy control and escort duties.
This 16H comes with a Norton Owners Club letter stating that she’s a War Department machine, delivered under contract number ‘C12526’ in 1942, which has been fitted with a War Department replacement engine. The Norton was completely restored to civilian trim by highly regarded specialist restorers NP Veteran Engineering in Marle Green, Heathfield, GB in 2013 and last ran in February 2023. Only 138 miles are recorded on the odometer, which is believed to be the distance travelled since the rebuild.