McIntosh Manx Norton

This New Zealand-built 1962 Manx Norton replica set the lap for the fastest-ever Manx on the mountain course at the Isle of Man.

| January/February 2016

An engineering marvel as well as an objet d’art, this New Zealand-built 1962 Manx Norton replica literally runs as good as it looks. And how good is that? In Bruce Anstey’s hands in 2014 it won the Classic TT GP1 class — and set the fastest lap ever for a Manx on the mountain course at the Isle of Man. That’s how good.

In the 1950s, John Surtees rode a Manx on his way up the ladder to successive Grand Prix wins. So did the legendary Mike Hailwood, and Stirling Moss got his car racing start in a revolutionary rear-engine Cooper F3 powered by a Manx Norton engine.

Remarkably, more than a half-century since the last Manx left the factory, the Manx Norton legend continues to grow. Last summer, nine-time Isle of Man winner Anstey rode this New Zealand-built replica to victory in the GP1 class at the Classic TT, winning the Hailwood Trophy with a fastest lap of 108.1mph, the best ever for a Manx Norton. This further defines the Kiwi rider, who was already the fastest rider ever on the island, lapping at 132.298mph on his Honda Fireblade during the 2014 Superbike TT.

Manx then and now

Built in Birmingham, England, from 1950 to 1963, Norton’s “Featherbed” Manx GP racer is widely considered the quintessential British race bike. So successful was the design that Vanwall used the Manx engine as the basis for its Formula One car in the 1950s. Now, 53 years after the final Manx left the factory, independent shops are still faithfully recreating them.

Norton’s dual-downtube, double-cradle frame with swingarm rear suspension set the world standard for handling in its day, directly inspiring the top production motorcycle frames into the mid-1980s, and its rock-solid handling remains impressive even now. Other period technologies included the robust single-cylinder engine with magnesium cases and cam box, bevel gear-driven double overhead camshafts and high overall component quality.

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