Here’s everything you need to know about Norton Motorcycles – the latest acquisition by TVS Motor

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  • The iconic British bike manufacturer Norton Motorcycles has been acquired by TVS Motors.
  • The company has said that it will help Norton Motorcycles regain its ‘full glory’.
  • Norton Motorcycles will continue manufacturing from its existing UK facility.
Indian bike maker TVS Motor acquired Norton Motorcycles, one of the oldest British bike manufacturers. In fact, Norton Motorcycles has seen the turn of two centuries already, as it was founded in 1898 in Birmingham.

Norton Motorcycles is well known for its bikes which range from classic models to luxury motorcycles including super-bikes. The acquisition could put TVS Motor on the world map, much like the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover in 2008 helped Tata Motors gain global prominence.

You might be wondering what’s so special about Norton Motorcycles that TVS acquired it in the midst of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. What makes Norton such a valued venture? Is it just price or pride, or is there more to it?

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Let’s find out.

Norton Motorcycles was founded in 1898 as a bicycle parts supplier
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Norton Motorcycles was founded in 1898 by James Lansdowne Norton. For the first few years, Norton supplied bicycle parts. It wasn’t until 1902 that the company started building its own motorcycles.


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The first Norton bike was the Energette, powered by a 143cc engine that was sourced from Belgium.

Norton took the next major leap in 1907 when it built its own engine – the iconic Big Four with 633cc capacity. It was so successful that it remained in production for nearly five decades. The last Norton bike with the Big Four engine was sold in 1954.

It supplied the British army during the World Wars

By the time the first World War was underway, Norton had gained a reputation for making sturdy motorcycles. It supplied the British army during both the World Wars. In the second World War, a quarter of the bikes used by the British army were Nortons.

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Dominator, Commando, Manx – some of the legendary Norton motorcycles

Over its long history, Norton has come out with several legendary motorcycles.

The Norton Manx set the race tracks on fire – it recorded two hat-trick podium finishes at the iconic Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in 1950.

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The Commando range set sales records on fire with over 5 lakh units sold in a decade.

Apart from hot sales and speed, Norton is also known for its simplicity and elegance.

Norton’s ownership changed more than five times since its founding

Norton Motorcycles is more than 100 years old now, and it has seen several ownership changes throughout its history.
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The first time Norton experienced financial troubles was in 1913, just before the first World War. The company found a lifeline thanks to RT Shelly and Company.

In 1953 as the motorcycle industry went into a recession, Norton faced its next major challenge as major shareholders started to quit. It was eventually acquired by Associated Motor Cycles. Subsequently, Norton Dominator Twins and Norton Atlas kept the company’s sales strong.

Over the next few years, Norton went through a reformation and renamed Norton-Villiers. Another British brand BSA-Triumph was also going through financial difficulties. The UK government stepped in to merge Norton and BSA Triumph.
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A few decades later, Norton was acquired by Canada’s Wildrose Ventures in 1993. However, within a year, it was sold to another company Aquilini Investments. Until 2008, Norton was under American ownership. It was bought by Stuart Garner, a UK-based businessman in 2008.

In January 2020, Norton went into liquidation. In April 2020, TVS Motor Company announced the acquisition of Norton Motorcycles.

TVS says it will help ‘Norton to regain its fully glory’

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Announcing the completion of acquisition on April 17, TVS Motor’s joint managing director Sudarshan Venu said, “This is a momentous time for us at TVS Motor Company. Norton is an iconic British brand celebrated across the world and presents us with an immense opportunity to scale globally.”

“We will extend our full support for Norton to regain its full glory in the international motorcycle landscape,” Venu further added.

Why is Norton important for TVS?

Owning a classic motorcycle brand or range is quite a rage these days, as the successful comeback of Royal Enfield has proved. For TVS, the Coronavirus pandemic has presented the perfect opportunity to combine price, pride and potential in a single package -- that is Norton Motorcycles.
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While the price and pride factors are understandable, the potential with Norton is limitless. “It is a brand which gives us a huge opportunity to scale up and create value,” Venu said.

Beyond this, TVS also appears intent on maintaining Norton’s distinctive identity. It will continue with the existing Norton employees and the manufacturing will continue at the existing Donnington Park facility in the UK.

See also:

TVS Motor and the Tata⁠ Group have something in common— the lure of struggling British icons

Strongly support measures announced by RBI to revive economy: TVS Motor
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