Friday 13 January 2023

It's my bike !

-JdK- I've always wondered about the history of my motorcycles so whenever I see old photographs I look for something familiar. The photo above (from TwistGrip) was taken on the 7th of May 1950 and these are members of the Moto Club Ch√Ętillonnais. The photo was taken in Chartres, a small town close to Paris.

The photo caught my attention for two reasons: the picture was taken in France and it contains a few interesting Nortons, one probably an Inter but the other one - on the right - also somewhat special due to the chrome plated tank and what appears to be a larger front wheel.

I have a 1936 Model CJ Norton with a chrome plated tank and a 20" front wheel that was sold by agent Psalty in Paris, see the dealer plate on the number plate above. The photo's below were taken in February 2013 by the French dealer from whom I bought the machine.

The motorcycle is quite original so I left the paint alone as much as possible but what I did do was remove two large flat bolts that covered two holes in the left hand side of the front mudguard. I used some weld to close the holes but it is still visible. I have no clue what the holes were used for and I've never seen holes at this position before. So I was pretty surprised that the Norton in this old French photo also has what appear to be two bolts at exactly the same position!

When you look more carefully there are more similarities, most notably a scratch in the black lining of the tank and I've highlighted the similarities in the photo's below. On the left side you see the bike in in 2013, on the right in 1950.

Do bear in mind that by 2013 someone had fitted the 20" wheel at rear and the 19" wheel at front which I corrected again. Also after 1950 someone fitted a different headlight, a speedo and a brake plate with a speedo drive. And yes, when I bought the bike it had a different registration but there is another number lurking beneath and I should remove the paint to confirm.

I'm already pretty convinced as the chances of finding another Norton, in France, close to Paris with those two plugged holes in the mudguard at exactly this position and the scratch in the black line with exactly that shape must be close to zero.

Also fascinating that the previous owner of my bike may also be in this photo; I think it's the chap wearing the helmet, third from right!

PS. Rich contacted us as he has the original of the French photo and better copies of the Norton and a copy of the rear of the pic are provided below.