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1967 750cc Norton p11

1967 750cc Norton P11

Although built by Norton Villiers at the former Associated Motor Cycles factory in Woolwich, Southeast London, the Norton P11 was conceived in the USA. In the late sixties, piont-to-point desert racing was booming in America's far-Western states but while the AMC-designed 750cc Matchless G15 and Norton N15 scramblers had ample power, they were being outpaced by lighter and more nimble machines.

Encouraged by Norton Villiers' US distributor Berliner Motor Corp, Californian Norton dealer Bob Blair built a prototype of the desert sled his customers wanted. His mechanics took an accident-damaged Matchless G85CS scrambler and replaced its single-cylinder engine with a 750cc Norton twin. After successful testing in the Californian wilderness, the hybrid was shipped to London with a request from Berliner to create a production model on the same lines. Eager for transatlantic business, Norton Villiers obliged and set to work on Project 11, able to use or adapt many parts already in stock.

The first production P11s were shipped to the USA in the spring of 1967 and the latest Norton's capability was proved by desert racing successes, notably when ZDS-sponsored rider Mike Patrick won a 1968 Californian championship.

By the late sixties, the rise of light yet powerful two strokes spelled the end for big four-strokes in America off-road sport. But the P11 also made an exciting street scrambler, offering lean and rugges looks for the youthful road rider. One of the Norton's strongest selling points was its ability to out-accelerate every car on the highways of America except AC's 5-litre Conra.

This example, with high exhaust pipes for maximum ground clearance is one of the earliest P11s to be shipped to the Berliner Motor Corp. The lusty big twins sold as quickly as Norton Villiers could make them and the specification was continually updated until the final Norton Ranger version of 1968. For 1969, Norton Villiers replaced its P11 with the scrambler-style 750 S version of the Islastic-framed Commando.