’75 Norton John Player Replica
Over the years there have been a few motorcycles that I have truly lusted after and some, have actually found a home with me. A Ducati Darmah, a couple of Triumph Bonneville’s, a BSA Lightning 650 or two, a Kawasaki H2 and currently residing in the barn is a beautiful BMW R90S.
One motorcycle that has always eluded me was the John Player Norton. A little history here, there were only three John Player Norton’s built in the early 70’s. These were the monocoque chassis racers for the Formula 750 class. The racers were quite successful against the more powerful two stroke motorcycles of the time. The JPN was a truly innovative motorcycle for the time and actually, when you look at it’s design and the reasons behind it, the JPN was way ahead of it’s time. It took a lot of cues from Formula 1 cars using aerodynamics to compensate for lower power.
After Norton dropped out of racing, (why is it that corporate budget’s always get in the way of a good time?!) they concentrated on the 850cc Commando model which was doing quite well in the market despite the fact that this was the twilight of the British motorcycle industry. Norton needed something special so a race replica was designed.
The JPN was produced for only one year and only around 200 of them at that. Most of them, approximately 120, were sent to the US. In reality the production John Player Norton is a standard Norton 850 Commando with a fibreglass shell replicating the look of the racer. Underneath the fibreglass ‘gas tank’ is actually the standard steel tank. The motor puts out a whopping 50HP, but that 50HP will easily push you past 115MPH and in the Norton chassis, handle superbly. A Norton Commando is truly one of the most confidence inspiring vintage motorcycles you could ever ride.
On the market today is a beautiful JPN. This is a stone stock version with only 2900 miles on the clock. There are a couple of flaws that you can see in the pictures but nothing that takes away from the motorcycle. This is a very unique and rare English motorbike. And one final question you’re asking…who is John Player? It’s an English cigarette company.