1959 Norton Dominator99 "Café Racer"
Year of manufacture1959
Number of seats1
Engine size (cc)600
- 1959 Norton Dominator 99
- Featherbed Frame and Roadholder forks
- Roger Kordas rebuilt engine
- Excellent condition
- Stunning Manx / café racer looks
We are proud to offer this 1959 Norton Dominator 99. It has the fabled Featherbed frame and Roadholder forks and the 600cc engine has received a full bottom up rebuild by specialist Roger Kordas in 2014. The bike is presented in stunning Manx / café racer style with new tyres and is UK register. The bike starts incredibly easily and is easy to ride but the engine has done very few miles since the rebuild so it will need some careful running in.
These Norton Dominators are so exciting to ride and look fabulous so don’t miss your chance to own one of these legendary machines.
In essence, the Norton Dominator was a reaction to the Triumph Speed Twin that had been launched just before the war in 1938 as a 500cc twin cylinder bike aimed at the American market. The Triumph sold very well particularly after the war ended and Norton was quick to realize that they needed a similar product to add to their range.
Norton hired Bert Hopwood, who had been part of the Triumph design team, and he was tasked with designing a new twin cylinder engine. Unsurprisingly, the engine shared many characteristics with the Triumph unit being a 500cc parallel twin but Bert had learnt a lot during his time working on the Speed Twin and he was able to incorporate many improvements to the new design. The exhaust ports were splayed wider to allow better cooling, the noisy rattling was reduced by the use of a single camshaft driven by a chain, the crankshaft was altered and well as many other little tweaks. The engine used cast iron barrels and head with an integral single inlet manifold equipped with a 1” Type 76 Amal carburettor and a Lucas Magneto. Combined with a bore and stroke of 66 × 72.6 mm the engine produced good low down torque and was capable of 92mph.
The first incarnation of the Dominator was called the Model 7 and it was launched to the public in 1949. It housed the Bert’s new engine in a single down-tube frame with a plunger rear suspension and Norton customary simple good looks. The model sold well and it soon gained a proper swingarm rear end but the most important change was about to come which would transform the Dominator into the legend it now it – the appearance of the Featherbed Frame.
The McCandless brother had designed several racing frames in Belfast, N.Ireland and they approached Norton to use their new frame design in their racing program with their 500cc Manx singles. At the time, Norton’s legendary head of racing, Joe Craig, was having concern over their old ‘Garden Gate’ frames as several had cracked and broken during racing so he accepted the offer. The rest, as they say, is history. From 1949, the McCandless brothers worked exclusively for the Norton Factory and following testing during the winter of 1949/50 the new McCandless framed Manx Nortons were entered into the infamous Isle of Man TT where they won 1st, 2nd & 3rd in both the Senior and Junior TTs while also setting a new lap record in the Senior TT! The Norton works rider Harold Daniell declared that the frame was like ‘riding on a featherbed’ compared to the old Garden Gate frame and it has been called the Featherbed ever since.
Norton were understandably keen to get a good return from the frame they had purchased and the Dominator was the obvious choice to receive the upgrade. So they dropped the old single down-tube frame and installed the Model 7’s engine into the Featherbed frame, re-launching it in 1952 as the Dominator 88. It is hard to imagine what a change this was and what a huge difference it made, it would be like an everyday car having a Formula 1 chassis put on it. The new Dominator was an instant success and would go on to dominate for the next decade. Through this time the model evolved with twin carburettors, alloy heads, higher compression ratios and a bored out 600cc Model 99 being launch in 1956 to keep up with growing demands for power and speed. The combination was a hit and the Dominator remains one of the most loved classic bikes to this day.