Commando Mk1 750cc
The Norton Commando was introduced
in 1967 at the Earls Court Show. The first production
machines completed in April 1968 had bending
frame problems, removed with the introduction
of a new frame in January 1969. The original
model, called the 'Fastback' was joined by the
production racer 'S Type' which had a high level
left-side exhaust and a 2.5 gallon petrol tank.
Production of the machine was
initially complex and located across different
parts of England, with the engines produced
in Wolverhampton, frames in Manchester, while
components and final assembly was at Burrage
Grove, Plumstead. In late 1968 Plumstead works
was subject to a Greater London Council compulsory
purchase order, and closed in July 1969. With
assistance of a Government subsidy, the assembly
line was moved to North Way, Andover; with the
Test Department in an aircraft hangar on Thruxton
Airfield. Frame manufacturing was transferred
to Wolverhampton, where a second production
line produced about 80 complete machines each
week. Components and complete engines and gearboxes
were also shipped overnight, from Wolverhampton
to the Andover assembly line.
The S version was a production
racer, featuring an OHV tuned engine, front
disk brake and was finished in bright yellow
- known as the 'Yellow Peril'. In March to June
1970 the updated S called the 'Roadster' had
the 750 cc OHV engine, low-level exhaust, upward
angled silencers and reverse cones. September
1970 saw the introduction of the classic 'Fastback
Mk2', which had alloy levers with modified stands
and chain guards. The 'Street Scrambler' and
the 'Hi Rider' were launched in May 1971, with
the 'Fastback Long Range' with increased petrol
tank capacity from July 1971.
The 'Combat' engine was introduced
in January 1972 saw the appearance of the 'Mk4
Fastback', updated 'Roadster' and the '750 Interstate'.
The 'Combat' delivered 65 b.h.p. at 6500 r.p.m.
with a 10 to 1 compression ratio, but the stressed
750cc twin proved extremely unreliable, with
main bearing failures and broken pistons common.
The 'Combat' engine combined with
quality control problems gave the company a
bad reputation, which was highly covered in
the press. By the middle of 1972 BSA Triumph
group were in serious financial trouble. The
UK Government decided to bail the company out
with a financial rescue package, providing it
would agree to merge with Norton Villiers. Norton
Villiers Triumph was duly formed and the new
company got off to a shaky start.