c.1975 Norton 850cc Commando Racing Motorcycle 'Mick's Nightmare'
Frame no. 321051
Engine no. 321051
Restored and extensively upgraded by Mick Hemmings
Very well specified
Fully documented rebuild
The Commando's vibration-beating Isolastic frame enabled Norton Villiers successfully to prolong the life of their ageing parallel twin. Launched in 1967, the model was an instant hit with the motorcycling public, being voted Motor Cycle News 'Machine of the Year' for five consecutive years. To promote its new model, the factory embarked on a racing programme, entering production machine events and the emerging 'Formula 750' class, with John Player sponsorship for the latter. Racer/engineer Peter Williams joined the development team, and his brilliant technical innovations - chiefly the adoption of a monocoque chassis - and world-class riding talent kept the Commando at the forefront of racing despite an often immense power disadvantage. In 1973 Williams won the Isle of Man Formula 750 TT at record pace, and was even able to win three of that year's John Player Trans-Atlantic Trophy races despite giving away over 30 horsepower to the works Kawasakis and Suzukis. Sadly, Williams' serious accident at Oulton Park the following year ended his association with Norton, but it is unlikely that even his genius could have kept the Commando competitive for much longer. Today the Commando continues to be a force to be reckoned with in Classic racing, particularly in the hands of Gary Thwaites.
Purchased by Karl-Heinz Kalbfell in 2008, this Commando racer gained the sobriquet 'Mick's Nightmare' as a result of the difficulties encountered by renowned marque specialist Mick Hemmings when he came to rebuild it a couple of years later, not the least of which was having to repair the amateurish, and dangerous, modifications made to the frame by a previous owner. Before/after photographs and Mick's detailed invoice (for £13,459) are on file. Additional documentation consists of sundry other invoices, the 2008 purchase receipt, and a copy of the machine's German Historic Racing Fahrzeugpass. Completed in December 2010, this has to be one of the best racing Commandos currently available.