1937 NSU 350cc: Double Knocker

The Norton-inspired twin cam NSU 350cc couldn’t beat the British at their own game.

NSU-350cc

The 1937 NSU 350cc was built by former Norton engineer Walter William Moore to compete in TT racing.

Photo By Phillip Tooth

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1937 NSU 350
Claimed power:
31hp @ 7,000rpm
Top speed: 75mph (est.)
Engine: 350cc air-cooled DOHC single, 71mm x 88mm bore and stroke
Weight (dry): 325lb (148kg) (est.)

When Norton engineer Walter William Moore defected from Birmingham to Neckarsulm, Germany, in 1929, his new German bosses must have been feeling pleased with their coup. After all, Moore had designed a TT-winning overhead camshaft Norton for the Brits, and now he was going to put NSU on the path to victory.

Moore, a short, slim Welshman with sharp features, had joined Norton as race team manager in March 1924 and was immediately tasked with turning the pushrod Model 18 into a winner for the Isle of Man TT that June. The engine was certainly fast enough, but the dummy belt rim brakes were not up to the speeds that the 490cc Model 18 was capable of: In 1922, Norton had taken the 500cc World Record at 144.68kmh (approximately 90mph) for the flying kilometer.

Ever the practical engineer, Moore modified the Model 18 racers with a rear drum brake sourced from the Ford Model T. He also improved the lubrication system with a Best & Lloyd mechanical oil pump to replace the hand plunger pump. Then he climbed into the sidecar of an outfit hauled by a 588cc version of the Model 18 and enjoyed the ride as George Tucker gave Norton victory in only the second sidecar TT — they won by just a few seconds short of half an hour! A few days later, Alec Bennett took the Senior TT laurels with the Model 18. MC 

Order the November/December 2012 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the 1937 NSU 350cc. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.