Just like with the classics in film and literature, the motorcycles produced during the post-war period ride on today as legends, trailblazers, and masterful examples of technique done right. The Norton Manx is yet another example of this concept.
Even as early as the 1900s, the Norton name was already considered the top of the line for racing motorcycles in the Isle of Man TT racing circuit. With the introduction of the Norton Max, that reputation was carved in stone.
The 1946 Norton Manx was released just after the conclusion of World War II in an attempt to bolster Norton’s already legendary line-up of racing superbikes, supersports, and motorcycles, which it did until 1962 when production ceased.
Modernized Design Specifications
The 1946 Norton Manx wasn’t quite anything special. It had an average displacement engine, decent speed, and a design inspired by the Norton International, a pre-war racing model. However, this otherwise ordinary motorcycle was transformed into a total superbike by 1950.
Timeline of Versions with Changes
The Manx underwent considerable redesigning in the early years of its production and only subtle changes later on down the line.
- Norton Manx (1946-1949)
The first generation Manx was, in comparison to future generations, a little underwhelming. Despite high performance, efficient output, and great handling, the 1946 Norton Manx was not yet set firmly in its place in history. Come 1950, however, everything changed.
- Norton Manx (1950-1953)
For the 1950 release, designers tossed the old frames and replaced them with featherbed frames. These new frames enabled drivers to enjoy maximized maneuverability and ease of handling at high speeds.
This new and improved handling and control, combined with a 499cc DOHC air-cooled single engine, 54 horsepower at 7,200 rpm, and top speeds of 130 miles per hour, took the Manx from a good bike to a legend on the track.
- Norton Manx (1953-1962)
In 1953, designers altered the long-stroke engine in order to increase performance and efficiency, particularly at high speeds. This enabled the vehicle to get to somewhat higher maximum speeds of around 140 miles per hour.
However, as single-cylinder engines began to go out of style in the face of competition from newer, multiple-cylinder engines, the Norton Manx gradually lost its status and was eventually removed from production.
The Manx in the News
On August 6, 2019, professional racer Alex McLean won a 500 Grand Prix at Gingerman Raceway while behind the handlebars of a 1962 Norton Manx, 57 years after production ended, proving that the Manx is just as much a powerhouse today as it was all those years ago.
The Norton Manx in its various editions has seen use in more than a dozen high-budget films and TV series across the world. As recently as 2019, it was featured in a popular Japanese anime entitled Lupin the Third.
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Official Name – Cool Nickname
The Norton Manx was only in production from 1946 to 1963, but the feats of engineering and design that the engineers were capable of accomplishing in that short time have entrenched the Manx in its place in history.