Manx Norton Daytona Racer

Alan Cathcart rides Dick Klamfoth’s 1952 Daytona-winning Manx Norton.

  • Manx Norton
    The extra power and weight of the Manx double-knocker engine was really more than the plunger-sprung Garden Gate frame could handle, but the later Featherbed frame was much improved.
    Photo By Kyoichi Nakamura

  • Manx Norton

1952 Manx Norton
Claimed power:
45hp @ 5,750rpm
Top speed: 108mph
Engine: 499cc air-cooled DOHC single, 79mm x 100mm bore and stroke, 12:1 compression ratio (8:1 stock)
Weight (dry): 330lb (150kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4 gal/15ltr (est.)

In 1952, this Manx Norton took then 22-year-old Dick Klamfoth — and Norton — to history at Daytona Beach as the first three-time winner of the most famous race in America. Sixty-one years later, it’s still racing, thanks to the tireless efforts of George Cohen.  

Brit George Cohen is globally recognized as the ultimate authority on Norton singles. A National Health psychiatrist until taking early retirement to concentrate on restoring and racing Nortons, he’s been a hands-on engineer since a very early age. His father was the head of Cambridge University’s engineering faculty, so growing up George observed skilled toolmakers and engineers at work: By the age of 11 he had his own lathe, rescued from behind the engineering lab.

He’s worked on an unrivaled roster of iconic Nortons, including reconstructing Rem Fowler’s 1907 winner of the very first Isle of Man TT race after it was destroyed in the disastrous 2003 fire at the National Motorcycle Museum (NMM), then riding it in the Centenary TT parade held in 2007 over the original St. Johns Course.

George has tracked down an array of genuine works Daytona Nortons and now owns a pair of them, one from 1948 and another — our feature bike — from 1952.

“I found a 1949 Daytona Norton for sale on the Internet, back when the late Roy Richards [the NMM’s founder] was still alive,” George says. “I’d been restoring bikes for him after the tragic fire there, so although I didn’t have the money to buy this bike, Roy did, and it turned out to be Dick Klamfoth’s Daytona race winner. MC 

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