Lot 372

Dare to Dream | Online

1973 Norton Commando 850 Roadster


$8,100 USD | Sold

Canada | Toronto, Ontario



Frame No.
Engine No.
Canadian Registration
  • First year of Norton’s venerated 850 twin
  • Motor Cycle News’ “Machine of the Year” five years in a row when launched
  • Desirable Roadster model, featuring Lockheed front disc brake and “café-style” equipment
  • Restored under previous ownership and well-maintained since
  • Celebrated as a highly useable vintage motorcycle model, ideal for both collectors and active riders
Please note, this lot is registered in Canada and import duty will be applicable to all countries outside of Canada, including the United States. RM Sotheby’s will assist buyers with importation and for residents of the USA, in obtaining a US title.

Norton’s Commandos are perhaps the most practical, usable-in-the-modern-world classic Britbikes.” –Mark Hoyer, Hemmings

Having dominated the post-war motorcycle market with their Norton Manx and Atlas models, featuring a revolutionary double-overhead-camshaft engine and “featherbed frame,” Norton-Villiers Chairman Dennis Poore realized the firm needed to a new flagship bike to remain competitive against the ever-encroaching Japanese manufacturers.

Poore established a design team headed by former Rolls-Royce engineer Dr. Stefan Bauer, working in conjunction with former Velocette engineer Charles Udall. Knowing that vibration was an inherent problem with vertical twin engines, Bauer thought Norton’s revered featherbed frame may have been causing more harm than good, so he endeavored to design a new frame based around a single top tube for increased stiffness and rubber-mounted engine to isolate vibrations from the rider.

Experiencing difficulties designing an all-new engine, it was decided to launch a new model around Bauer’s “Isolastic” frame using the preceding Atlas’s 750-cubic-centimeter twin. This new model, named the Commando, was an instant success both on the home island and abroad, particularly in the crucial American market, and was voted Motor Cycle News’ “Machine of the Year” for five consecutive years upon its launch.

In 1973, Norton debuted the Commando 850. Truly displacing 828 cubic centimeters, the new twin featured a larger bore, stronger gearbox, all-metal clutch, and through-bolted cylinder block along with a slew of other minor improvements. All these improvements were no match for the firm’s financial mismanagement, however, and Norton was forced to close its doors in 1978, making the Commando 850 the swan song of one of Britain’s most iconic manufacturers.

Offered for sale from the Dare to Dream Collection is a desirable Commando 850 Roadster. Debuting initially in 1970, the Roadster trim featured a higher compression “Combat” engine, Lockheed front disc-brake, and a low-level exhaust system with upward-angled silencers and reverse cones.

Wearing the hallmarks of a charming older restoration in Norton’s iconic black and gold livery, this Commando 850 Roadster offers a superb opportunity to experience one of Britain’s most revered motorcycles.