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Norton Commando
Identification

Updated 03/02/20

Norton US License
Plate Brackets


Norton Wiring
Updated 07/28/20

1972 Customer
Combat Build

Updated 08/12/20

1974 Norton 850
Commando Rebuild

Updated 07/26/20

Used Parts For Sale
Updated 06/09/19

Norton Wiring Diagrams
Updated 07/06/19

1974 Norton Wiring
Updated 07/27/20

Norton Rear
Wheel Lacing

Updated 03/02/19

Norton Front
Wheel Lacing

Updated 02/21/19

1972 Norton 750
Commando Rebuild

Completed 5/15/19
First Place Norton 5/16/19
Sold 1/1/20


1972 Norton Wiring
Updated 07/27/20

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This page is an attempt to identify the Norton Commando models and major changes. Very little of this is from my personal knowledge.  Most of it comes from various public records and has been checked by some members of the Access Norton forum. If you see something wrong or have more to add, please write me! I would like to add any missing models and the colors available for the various models/years.
  • The first table has the general starting serial numbers and the two right-hand columns list the approximate 750 Commando engine build dates as listed in Mick Duckworth's Norton Commando book that is available from Andover Norton. Note that he lists very specific starting serial numbers that often do not match what others have published - who knows what is correct!
  • The second table has more details related to the first
  • The third attempts to give dates for the various models based on many things - the apparent conflicts are unavoidable - each row should be considered alone!
  • The fourth table provides carb information.
  • The fifth table lists the results of an ongoing survey.  If you have more to add, write me: marshg@gregmarsh.com
After the five tables is a section on frames.

Some of this info comes from Peter Henshaw's book The Norton Commando Bible, but it is not included in the first table because there are several apparent errors in his book related to the first table.  The second table used some of his information.

Unlike BSA, Triumph, etc. who upgraded their models each year and in later years included a "model year" code on their machines, confusion often arises with the Commando because "mark" changes didn't always occur at a particular time of the calendar year or model season. Some marks (Fastback Mk 2, for instance) only lasted a few months which makes it doubly difficult when attempting to apply the usual "model year" designations to Commando mark numbers. Generally, the years here are model years but a lot is open to interpretation.

Keep in mind that factory records were hand written at least through 1972 and contrary to what some will lead you to believe, no one has all of them.  In theory the VMCC has them but I know that Andover Norton has at least part of the records and neither has the records for my 1974 850 MK2A.  Also, my 1972 750 was the 25th built on 4 Jan 1972 according to the factory records from Andover Norton, but the frame certification label tag lists Dec 1971 so I assume the final assembly date was 4 Jan 1972 but the frame was finished in Dec 1971.

Year CCs Marks Starting Serial MD Serial MD Date
1968 750 First Commando 126125 126125 Feb 1968
1969 750 Either 129500 or 130000
depending on where you look
131180
133668
Mar 1969
Sep 1969
1970 750 134700 135140
139571
Mar 1970
Sep 1970
1971 750 MK II/III 141700 141717
145234
146074
150723
Jan 1971
Mar 1971
May 1971
Oct 1971
1972 750 MK IV 200001 200001 Jan 1972
1973 750 MK V 212278 or 220000, see below. 219999
230935
Mar 1973
Oct 1973
1973 850 MK 1/1A 300000
1974 850 MK 2/2A 307311 See the important note below!
1975 850 MK III 325000 Engine
125001 Frame

Important Note: The MK2/MK2A row above makes it seem like they were introduce in 1974.  That might have been some sort of marketing introduction but a survey I've been conducting says that it is wrong.  Also, you'll see 307311 as the beginning of the MK2/MK2A in many places which is probably true, but that number comes from the front of a parts supplement that was copyrighted in 1974 which says that is covers bikes after 307311.  Many have apparently thought that meant that the MK2/MK2A started in Jan 1974.  The certification label on the steering head of mostl Commandos lists the serial number and a date.  That date is listed as "Date of Manufacture" on most forms of the labels.  That also appears to not be true for 850s.  307241 has a date of May 73.  My 310311 has a date of Nov 73 and it is definitely a MK2A.


Engine CCs Marks Year(s) Models For Notes
126125 750   1968 Commando All Engine Prefix 20M3. First produciton Commando. External Tach (Rev Counter) drive. Points in old magneto position.  Later known as MK I or Fastback after other Marks and Models were introduced.
129500 or
130000
750   1969 Fastback, S Type, and R Type All All S Type (First=131257): Engine Prefix 20M3S. Points in timing cover. Integral Tach(Rev Counter) drive.

Fastback/R Type: Continue as 20M3 with the points housing behind the cylinders. R Type basically a Fastback but with what later became known as the Roadster style fuel tank and no tail piece. Fastback converted to 20M3S spec. later in the year. 'R' Type discontinued after only a few months.
134400 750   1969 or 70 Fastback, S Type, and Roadster All All Roadster introduced, S Type discontinued in June (Last=135088), Fastback MK II, Sept. 1970 (139571) to Jan. '71 (141717). According to Peter Henshaw, 135140 was the first Roadster and he says it happened in 1970 at 135140.
141783 750 MK II/III 1971 Fastback, Roadster, SS, Hi-Rider, Fastback LR (steel tank). All All models were MK II except that the Fastback was MK III with new style fork yokes - non adjustable type. 4.10 Front Tire (tyre). Lucas handlebar switches. Center (centre) stand on engine/gearbox mount (was on frame before). SS were in the range 145234-150723
200000 750 MK IV 1972 Fastback, Roadster, Hi-Rider, and Interstate All Breather moved between gearbox plates behind engine (was on left hand end of camshaft before). Engine number prefix discontinued. Optional front disc brake and Combat engine.

The first Combat was 200976 but all were not Combat after that.  Based on service release N3/23, the last Combat was 211110.

There were four service bulletins in 1972/3 concerning the main bearings: 68, N2/6, N2/9 which introduced the "Superblend" bearing at engine numnber 211891, and N2/10 which finalized the "Superblend" bearings - they were all due to problems with the Combat engines and although the fourth change finally fixed the problem; by then, the Combat engine had a bad reputation so they were no longer sold.  In truth, the high performance engines were still sold even into 1973, but they were not called Combat and they did not use the Combat (2S) camshaft. See: N3/23 for the various compression ratios available.

Peter Henshaw note for 1972: "Engine numbers jump to 200000 and are no longer consecutive."
220000 750 MK V 1973 Roadster, Interstate, and Hi-Rider All All black instrument cases. "Square" rear light (really rectangular). Disc brakes on all but Hi-Rider. Superblend bearings standard.  1973 normally had silver barrels.  Also, a few MK V had 230xxx and 235xxx serial numbers

Note: According to the 750/850 parts book (06.5034), serial number 212278 and later were built to MK V spec.  However, 220000 appears to be the official beginning of MkV production so either could be considered correct.   Also, the tall black instrument cases where the only ones listed.

Peter Henshaw says: "230935 Probably last Commando 750"
300000 850 MK 1 1973 Roadster, Interstate, and Hi-Rider All Balanced exhaust system. Front disc brake standard.  Silver barrels.  RH4 head. Tall black instrument cases
306591 850 MK IA 1973 Roadster and Interstate Europe Not sure whether Silver or Black barrels. Large black plastic air box. Peripheral discharge mufflers (silencers).  The point of the A version was reduced noise. RH4 head.

Note: According to service release N3/55, the chainguard extension became standard on all Commandos subsequent to engine number 307091,
307311 850 MK 2 1974 Roadster, Interstate, and Hi-Rider USA Black barrel. Old type mufflers (silencers) and air filter . RH10 head.  See Important Note above! 
307311 850 MK 2A 1974 Roadster, Interstate, JPN Europe Black barrels. Large black plastic air box. Peripheral discharge mufflers (silencers).  Some MK 2A were eventually sold in the US and some were imported to the US used (Mine Was).  The JPNs sold in the US were essentially MK 2As. The point of the A version was reduced noise.  RH10 head. See Important Note above!
325001 850 MK III 1975 Roadster, Interstate, and Hi-Rider All Electric start. Left shift. Rear disc brake.  New handlebar switches and central ignition console. Peter Henshaw says that the last production bike was 336539. RH4 head.

Starting around May 1975, the number stamped into the frame matched the engine and certification plate serial number in most cases.


CCs Model Marks Start End
750 Original Commando Apr-68 Mar-69
750 Fastback Mar-69 Aug-70
750 R Mar-69 Sep-69
750 S Mar-69 Jun-70
750 Roadster Mar-70 Dec-70
750 Fastback II Sep-70 Dec-70
750 Roadster II Jan-71 Dec-71
750 Fastback III Jan-71 Dec-71
750 SS Mar-71 Oct-71
750 Fastback III Long Range Apr-71 Dec-71
750 PR Apr-71 Oct-73
750 Hi-Rider May-71 Dec-71
750 Fastback IV Jan-72 Mar-73
750 Hi-Rider IV Jan-72 Feb-73
750 Roadster IV Jan-72 Feb-73
750 Fastback IV Long Range Jan-72 Feb-73
750 Interstate Jan-72 Feb-73
750 Hi-Rider V Mar-73 Oct-73
750 Interstate V Mar-73 Oct-73
750 Roadster V Mar-73 Oct-73
850 Hi-Rider 1 Apr-73 Dec-73
850 Interstate 1 Apr-73 Dec-73
850 Roadster 1 Apr-73 Dec-73
850 Interstate 1A Sep-73 Feb-74
850 Roadster 1A Sep-73 Feb-74
850 JPN * Nov-73 Feb-75
850 Hi-Rider 2 Jan-74 Feb-75
850 Interstate 2/2A Jan-74 Feb-75
850 Roadster 2/2A Jan-74 Feb-75
850 Interstate 3 Feb-75 Sep-77
850 Roadster 3 Feb-75 Sep-77
850 Hi-Rider 3 Mar-75 **
* The JPNs were based on the MK2A, but were a separate model.
** Not sure when production ended.


This table attempts to list the carbs that were used for each Commando version. Click the Details link for specifics on the carbs.

Years Model Engine Right Left ACK/PACK
1968 Commando 750cc R930/26 L930/27 133 Details
1969 Commando 750cc R930/30 L930/31   Details
1970 Commando 750cc R930/46 L930/47 135 Details
1970-1971 Commando 750cc R930/63 R930/64   Details
1971-1972 Commando 750cc R930/68 L930/69 111 Details
1972-1973 Commando 750cc R930/82 L930/83 139 Details
1972 Commando Combat 750cc R932/19 L932/20 140 Details
1973 Commando 750cc R932/26 L932/27 112 Details
1973-1974 Commando Mk 1/Mk 2 850cc R932/29 L932/30 136 Details
1973 (1) Commando Roadster 850cc R932/29 L932/30 136 Details
1973-1974 (3) Commando Mk 1A/Mk 2A 850cc R932/31 L932/32 137 Details
1973 (1)(3) Commando Interstate 850cc R932/31 L932/32 137 Details
1974 (2) Commando Mk 2A 850cc R932/33 L932/34 113 Details
1975 (2) Commando Mk 2A 850cc R932/33 L932/34 113 Details
1974 (1) Commando Mk 2 850cc R932/35 L932/36 138 Details
1974 and later Commando Roadster MKIII 850cc R932/42 L932/43 114 Details

(1) The Roadster and Interstate had different pipes in 1974 for both the 2 & 2A
(2) The Amal catalog is wrong because 33/34 cannot be 220 and 230 main jets. When ordered by ACK or PACK number, they have 220 main jets.
(3) Note that several models used this for 1973/1974

When ordering carbs from Amal, you can order by "ACK" or "PACK" number. "ACK" is standard carbs and "PACK" is premier.

Survey Results:


Serial
Label
Date

Frame

Head

Notes
1308xxFeb 69
133096Actual engine number: 20M3S 133096, was originally a S type Commando despatched from the factory 16th June 1969 to Los Angeles, CA
133941Actual engine number: 20M3S 133941, was originally a S type Commando despatched from the factory 14th August 1969 to New York, NY. This bike is probably RIP as it's gearbox in in 133096
145322This bike is RIP. It was parted out and some parts used for 204375
151159Actual engine number: 20M3S 151159, NOC Record shows: Build Date: 23 Sep 71; Model: Roadster, Dispatch Date: 30 Sep 71 to Harry Firth, Danforth Street, Toronto
201251Dec 71RH3According to the factory record, this was the 25th built on Jan 4, 1972 and it was yellow.
201664Dec 71
202206Dec 71
203143Jan 72
204157According to the factory record, this was the 14th built on Mar 10, 1972 and it was a purple roadster.
204161According to the factory record, this was the 10th built on Mar 10, 1972 and it was a black roadster.
204167According to the factory record, this was the 12th built on Mar 10, 1972 and it was a purple roadster.
204346According to the factory record, this was the 1st built on Mar 11, 1972 and it was a black roadster.
204375RH3According to the factory record, this was the 43rd built on Mar 10, 1972 and it was a black roadster. Today, the.Engine/Gearbox match but the frame is from an 850.
204428According to the factory record, this was the 2nd built on Mar 11, 1972 and it was a black roadster.
204511According to the factory record, this was the 29th built on Mar 10, 1972 and it was a black roadster.
204667According to the factory record, this was the 10th built on Mar 10, 1972 and it was a purple roadster.
206344Apr 72
207384Apr 72
209458N/ARH3This bike is RIP. It was used to rebuild 201251 when wrecked in 1974. It was a black Roadster.
220635Jan 73RH6Last Registered in NC Oct 92, 21,121 original miles, runs, "Fairly certain the head & cylinder have never been split."
2208xxNov 72
2212xxNov 72
230615RH5
300107Apr 73RH4
300376Feb 73
3017xxRH4
303xxxMay 73
307094Sep 73RH4Certifcation label date odd when considering serial numbers around this one. MK1A first registered in the UK Jul 74, Black barrel, black box air filter, balance pipe with split collets, long swingarm bushes, no chain guard extension, black Roadster.
307241May 73RH4Certifcation label date odd when considering serial numbers around this one.
307522Aug 73RH10Pre-MKIII swingarm, Blue,
307542Aug 73RH10This bike is RIP. It was used to rebuild 320691, some of its parts are available for sale
307564Aug 73RH4RH4 seems wrong for the head. The date matches the serial and MK2/MK2A so RH10 head is expected
3077xxSep 73RH10
307844Aug 73
308372Sep 73850F102807RH10First registered in the UK 22 May 74; Balanced exhaust pipes, with black cap silencers; 32mm carbs; Chainguard with the extra black piece on the end
308743Sep 73RH10
3087xxSep 73RH10
309643Oct 73RH10
310005Nov 73
310311Nov 73RH10MK2A purchased in Scotland and then imported to PA, USA. It was converted to a cafe racer, converted back, ridden to CA, converted to a cafe racer, converted back, ridden to PA and sold to the second owner in 1976.
31041*Nov 73
3104xxJan 74Certifcation label date odd when considering serial numbers around this one.
3104xxNov 73
310528Nov 73RH10
310878Nov 73RH10
311005Dec 73First registered May 74.
311032Dec 73105226RH10Candy apple red; Low UK handle bars that look like original and match 06-4132 specs. All A model items in place (Plastic air box.L/H side cover and battery tray ,2nd gear etc);Reinforced top shock mount (inner plate);Balanced header pipes (but might be non original);Early style wide bush swing arm; Rear brake plate with non external adjustment and non cut out chain guard; Square pattern seat with (looks) silver font; Non painted engine cases and RH10 cylinder head; Inner primary cover with a cone on the sliding disc
311188Dec 73RH10
311981Dec 73Still wearing original "Fireflake Royal Blue" paint
312xxxFeb 74
314193Apr 74RH10MK2; MKIII style short swingarm bushes with Welch plugs, slotted chain guard
314587This bike is RIP. It was parted out and some parts used for 204375
314828Apr 74
315114May 74RH10
31604xJun 74RH10
316385Jun 74
316544Jun 74
31661xJun 74RH10
316716Jun 74
317343Jul 74
319523Aug 74
319532Aug 74RH10
320691Aug 74850F114572RH10According to the factory record: Batch No.: 64A, Frame No.: 114572, Date Off Track: 23 Oct 74, Date Passed Test: 5 Nov 74, Date Packed: 11 Nov 74, Date Despatched: 26 Nov 74 to USA, Color: Black
329536Mar 75850F129311RH4The frame listed is the original frame. It was replaced with a new frame from Andover Norton Feb 2020.
334191Jul 75850 334191N/AHead not marked

Frame Numbering:

Norton frames were initially made by Reynolds (British Company) and later by Verlicchi (Itialian company).

There is sometimes confusion over "frame numbers" on Commandos. The red metal plate attached to the headstock with hammer drive screws is called a Certification Label. It normally contains the bike's serial number (engine number) and a date. 850s have that and they have a number stamped into the metal on the side of the head stock. That is the frame number. 750s after 1968 have no frame number.

There are four types of 850 frame numbers. They all have a special character intermixed which is similar to Norton Frame Symbol:
 
    Norton Frame Symbol850Norton Frame SymbolxxxxxxNorton Frame Symbol     Pre-MKIII Reynolds frame - xxxxxx matches the engine number (This may or may not be true.  I've been told this, but have no proof and have never seen one to check)
    Norton Frame Symbol850Norton Frame SymbolF1xxxxxNorton Frame Symbol     Pre-MKIII Verlicchi frame - xxxxx does not match the engine number
    Norton Frame Symbol850Norton Frame SymbolF125001Norton Frame Symbol     When Norton started building the MKIII the frame number started at 125001 and then went sequentially (more or less) from there until Apr/May 1975
    Norton Frame Symbol850Norton Frame SymbolxxxxxxNorton Frame Symbol     MKIII from Apr/May - the F was eliminated and xxxxxx matched the engine number


The info below is not verified and if you have anything to dispute, change, or back it up, I would like to hear it.
  • It appears that most 850 frames were made by Verlicchi, but possibly 100/week were made by Reynolds for some period of time
  • Supposedly if there was a problem with a Verlicchi frame, Reynolds would fix it
  • In general, Reynolds used imperial sized tubing (1” & 2.25”) and Verlicchi used metric sized tubing (25mm & 60mm)
    • However there are frames with a mix of the two
    • One theory is that Reynolds fixed Verlicchi frames using imperial tubes.
  • It appears that Reynolds stamped the frame number on the left side of the headstock and Verlicchi on the right side






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