Hailed by Norton as, 'the first true British challenger on the world motorcycle market in over a decade', the fully faired Commander rotary utilised Yamaha XJ900 wheels, suspension, brakes and sundry electrical components. With 80bhp on tap, the Commander was good for a top speed in the region of 120mph, while a commendably flat torque curve - 50lb/ft-plus between 3,500 and 8,500 revs - smooth, almost vibration-free engine, excellent handling, protective fairing and two 25-litre integral panniers made for a tourer to rival BMW's K100. 'On a hideous winter's eve, what should have been a windswept 80mph became a cosseted cruising speed,' marvelled Bike magazine's tester back in 1989. 'The twin chamber rotary really is smooth and the much chewed-over engineering merits of the rotary translate to tireless comfort and a crystal clear mirror image.' Sadly for Norton, the Wankel rotary's inherent deficiencies - excess heat and high exhaust emissions - meant that it had no long-term future as a motorcycle power unit.
This particular Commander was purchased from the auction sale at Norton Motors' Shenstone factory when it closed down in the mid-1990s. It was one of the Norton factory's test machines, and the vendor was informed that it had had a new engine fitted shortly before the sale. The machine is offered with a V5 registration document.