Starting with Swiss Clement engines in 1902, Briton James Norton, affectionately known as “Pa” would later switch to a Peugeot V-engine for his designs, until the first Norton engine was ready in 1907. In the same year, Rem Fowler brilliantly won the twin-cylinder class at the inaugural Isle of Man TT race, his victory kicked off a sporting legacy which lasted until the 1960s.
The “International” badge, which first appeared on a Norton bike in 1932 was resurrected for the 1954 design on display in Museu do Caramulo. Despite using the same bore and stroke as Norton’s CS1, the International 40’s engine was a complete redesign. The bike’s eccentric engine shaft, designed by Arthur Caroll was derived from the company’s successful competition bikes.
Although Norton introduced a four-speed gearbox and an improved rear suspension in 1953, the International’s biggest asset was its “Featherbed” frame, a structure that allowed the engine and transmission to be positioned for optimal centre of gravity—it transformed the bike’s handling.
The ingenious frame design proved too expensive to mass manufacture, forcing Norton to end production of the International in 1958, but not before it had achieved countless sporting successes around the world.