Pushrod operated overhead valve Norton ‘singles’ date back to 1922 but their heyday began in 1924 after a string of racing victories, this new-found fame lasting just three years until an overhead cam design was developed and introduced on a string of sporting machines, culminating in vertical twins. However, such was the popularity of the original pushrod single that manufacture continued until 1963.

The model 18 was the first pushrod Norton, and a host of variants followed including the 600cc Model 19 and the sportier ES2, which had enclosed pushrods and return springs. In 1947 the Model 18 gained ‘Roadholder’ front forks whilst retaining the rigid rear end, whereas the ES2 benefited from plunger rear suspension. By 1953 the ES2 had a swinging arm frame that was found on the Dominator twins, and various frame changes followed including the ‘Featherbed’ and finally the ‘Slimline’.


Remember the days of the RAC patrolman speeding to the aid of stricken motorists? This 1962 Norton is a vintage single-cylinder, overhead valve, four-stroke fitted with a full fairing and a Watsonian No. N1882 sidecar. The Watsonian (used to carry the patrolman’s extensive array of tools) has a single drum brake connected to the motorcycle’s all drum brake system. Riding with the sidecar attached reduces the maximum speed by about 10 miles an hour.
This combination is the last example used by the RAC, and is finished in full contemporary RAC livery. It was presented to The Collection when it was retired from service.

This motorcycle featured in the BBC comedy ‘The Last Salute’

Manufacturer: Norton Manufacturing Company, Birmingham, England
Model: ES2
Engine: Single cylinder, 490cc four-stroke
Top Speed: 70 mph