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Norton Rotary Development (4): Norton Prototypes

We must assume that development in the years up to 1978 used the P39Mk1 prototypes, as the bike that came in 1979 was in many respects a totally new concept that broke with the "established practice" up to now. Obviously, BSA/Triumph had merged in a "reverse takeover" shotgun wedding with Norton, and tiny Norton faultered under the heavy load that the bankrupt giant on its shoulders represented. The only good thing the giant had to offer was the rotary motorcycle development. This was seen as an elegant way out of the rat race of the industry greats, utilizing a high-price, highly individual niche for the marketing of future Nortons. This explains why Dennis Poore, the head of Manganeze Bronce, supported the Norton Rotary motorcycle development for nearly a decade.
The new bike was designed with a view to marketing a production ready motorcycle. It used a right-hand primary drive with Commando Mk3 type hydraulic primary chain tensioners; an improved 5-speed Triumph T140 gearbox; a box-section frame doubling as airbox and oil tank; and used many bought-in components that could be purchased as and when needed.
According to reliable sources 25 sets of components were purchased and a number of bikes built. The only one surviving in the form pictured here was the legendary "Cooke Neilsen", named after the man destined to road test it as a worldwide first- Cooke was editor of "Cycle World". However, in a last-minute change of mind the market entry was stopped and the road test never was. There was even publicity material already manufactured, that could be found in a certain corner of the Norton spares stores years later and sometimes mysteriously found its way out of the Norton factory!

But for the one "Cooke Neilsen" that was to remain in this form destined for a later works museum- that never was-, all other bikes built were converted, mostly to a "Mark 1" version of the later "Interpol II" (P42). Why this bike was stamped "P39", the same as the BSA/Triumph Oil-in-Frame bike, is one of the mysteries of Norton Rotary prototype history. The original Cooke Neilsen is now, too, with that private German collector, as the NMM declined to buy it.......