Greg Marsh Enterprises

When it absolutely must be done right and with integrity, you need Greg Marsh Enterprises. Our motto, promise, mission, and ethic is: Satisfaction Guaranteed!


Motorcycle Home

Triumph Home

Norton Home

Export Home

Contact Us!

Norton Commando

Updated 05/05/24

Norton Commando

Updated 07/23/24

Norton Commando

Updated 05/03/24

Norton Commando

Updated 04/04/24

Norton Commando

Updated 04/29/24

Norton Commando
Head Stud Study

Updated 05/04/24

Norton Commando
Service Releases

Updated 06/13/22

Norton Rear
Wheel Lacing

Updated 04/03/24

Norton Front
Wheel Lacing

Updated 04/29/24

Norton Front
Forks Helper

Updated 04/03/24

US FlagWednesday, July 24, 2024

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 - actually I just did! See: Commando Colors.
  • 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 table came from the Access Norton forum and the majority of that appears to have come from Roy Bacon's book Norton Commando All Models, 1995 edition ISBN 185648310X.
  • The fourth table provides factory documents information.
  • The fifth table provides carb information.
  • There was fifth table that listed the results of an ongoing survey.  That has been moved to its own page since some phones couldn't handle the length of this page.  It's here now.
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.  Also, some of it comes from Steve Wilson's book Norton Motorcycles from 1950 to 1986, and quite a bit of it comes from Roy Bacon's various books.

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.  Also, probably obvious. there was no MK1 until there was a MK2.

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.

August 18, 2020  New information.  The AJS & Matchless Owners Club holds the records for Nortons produced at Plumstead from 1963 till 1969 - information from the former club machine dating officer who keep interesting notes. The Matchless factory did not produce bikes in frame/engine number and the early Commandos are the same.

For 1969 the first Commando listed is 129898 built 1 Jan 1969 and dispatched to Norton Villiers Corp, LA on 7 Jan 1969. But 129904 dispatched to Chariot Cycles, Winnipeg 18 Dec 1968 . 130000 (Western Bars) went into stock on 20 Dec 1968 and 130001 dispatched 17 Dec 1968 to Maritime M/C Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Final Plumstead/Woolwich Bikes: 134093 looks to be the last Woolwich built bike, which was dispatched to Berliner, NY on 28 August 1969. Numbers 134094 to 134191 are written in ledger S10, but no details filled in. Which suggested they were build at Andover. However, 2 entries are completed. 134192 was dispatched to G Garneau, Paris with the note red, made Andover, dispatched Woolwich on 1 Oct 1969 and 134344 Milan Show dispatched 28 Oct 1969, made Andover dispatched Woolwich. I presume the last 2 were made in Andover, but prepared for the Paris & Milan motorcycle shows back at Woolwich.

September 9, 2020 New Information.  The first Commandos did not have the red Certification Label riveted to the headstock. They had the serial number stamped into the left side of the headstock vertically. Apparently the Certification Label was added to comply with new US Regulations which probably took effect Jan 1, 1969. Norton probably started adding them in 1968.  Hopefully, we'll get more early bikes in the Norton Survey to figure this out.

Important Note: The MK2/MK2A row below 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 most 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.

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
Mar 1969
Sep 1969
1970 750 134700 135140
Mar 1970
Sep 1970
1971 750 MK II/III 141700 141717
Jan 1971
Mar 1971
May 1971
Oct 1971
1972 750 MK IV 200001 (Last around 212550) 200001 Jan 1972
1973 750 MK V 212278 or 220000, see below. 219999
Mar 1973
Oct 1973
1973 850 MK 1/1A 300000
1974 850 MK 2/2A 307311 See the important note above!
1975 850 MK III 325000 Engine
125001 Frame

Engine Prefixes: Early Commando engines had a prefix to their serial number:
  • Initially 20M3 � these engines had the points at the rear of the timing chest where the magneto was mounted in the earlier Nortons and they were chain driven. Also, the tach drive was external.
  • The second prefix, 20M3S, denoted that the points were moved to the front of the timing chest and driven directly from the cam and the cam also drives the tach.
Both prefixes and the serial number, up to a point between 147xxx and 149xxx, were in the front left curve of the crankcase. Later serial numbers with the 20M3S prefix was stamped into the crankcase on the drive side but there was no flat spot for the purpose. The prefix was completely removed from all models when the jump to serial number 200000 was made and a flat spot was made in the drive-side crankcase for the serial number.

Engine CCs Marks Year(s) Models For Notes
126125 750   1968 Commando All Engine Prefix 20M3. First production 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.

Tires: 3.00x19 Front, 3.50x19 Rear

Black Barrels   Note that the Earl's Court display model had silver barrels and possibly some other per-production models as well, but otherwise they were black.
129500 or
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.

Tires: 3.00x19 Front, 3.50x19 Rear

Silver Barrels, but the cut-over from black to silver is not known.
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.

20M3 Fastback Black Barrels, other Silver Barrels  Tires: 3.00x19 Front, 3.50x19 Rear
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. Lucas handlebar switches. Center (center) stand on engine/gearbox mount (was on frame before). Side stand in new location and mounting lug welded to the frame.

SS were in the range 145234-150723

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Barrels (work in progress) Probably all Silver
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.  According to Steve Wilson, the first Interstate Combat was 212278 but that is surely a typo - should be a much lower serial number considering that he also says the 211110 was the first RH5 head replacing the Combat RH3 head which more or less agrees with the service bulletin.  Hard to tell because he says that 211110 was Sep 72 and starting in Oct 72, all bikes got Combat engines and that makes no sense!

There were four service bulletins in 1971-1973 concerning the main bearings: N68, N2/06, N2/09 which introduced the "Superblend" bearing at engine number 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."

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Combat Black Barrels, others Sivler Barrels
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. A few MK V had 230xxx and 235xxx serial numbers

Breather remains in 1972 location,

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"

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Silver Barrels 
300000 850 MK 1 1973 Roadster, Interstate, and Hi-Rider All Balanced exhaust pipes, Peashooter mufflers (silencers). Front disc brake standard.  RH4 head. Tall black instrument cases.

Breather moved to the rear of the timing chest.

From Joe at Andover Norton (paraphrased): Numbers 300000 through 300021 (except 300014 which went to Berliner/USA) were booked to Experimental, starting Oct 25, 1972, next to some it says "No Date". The next date is Feb 4, 1973, but 300020 went to Bob Trigg on Jan 23, 1973. The regular despatches start with 300022 produced on Jan 22, 1973 which was shipped to Berliner. Real production then started on Jan 24, 1973. The bikes from the experimental Dept. were partly sold later - 300007 to NV Canada, 300009 to NV Sydney, 300010 through 300013 to NVC California, 300014 to Berliner, 300015 to NVC California, 300018 through 300020 to Berliner, 300021 to NVC California. Most of the early production went to NVC California and Berliner.

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Silver barrels 
306591 850 MK IA 1973 Roadster and Interstate Europe Balanced exhaust pipes, 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 chain guard extension became standard on all Commandos subsequent to engine number 307091,

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Silver Barrels 
307311 850 MK 2 1974 Roadster, Interstate, and Hi-Rider USA Balanced exhaust pipes, Peashooter mufflers (silencers) and "hamcan" air filter. RH10 head.  See Important Note above! 

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Black barrels 
307311 850 MK 2A 1974 Roadster, Interstate, JPN Europe Balanced exhaust pipes, 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!

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Black barrels 
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 in May 1975, the number stamped into the frame matched the engine and certification plate serial number in most cases

Tires: 4.10x19 Front, 4.10x19 Rear

Black barrels 

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 all known Norton Commando Factory documents. For service releases look here.

Year Part Description Notes
1968 Norton Commando 750 Riders Handbook Not dated but probably early 1968
1968 Second Edition Norton Commando 750 Riders Handbook Printed Aug 1968
1968 Commando Spares List Not dated but probably 1968 Includes Supplements for 69 & 70
1969 Commando Workshop Manual Not dated but probably 1969
1969 Norton Commando "S" Type and Roadster Models Handbook Not dated but probably 1969
1970 Norton Parts Catalogue for 68-70 Not dated but probably 1970
1971 101/71 Commando 750 Parts List Not dated but probably 1971
1972 062864 750 Commando Riders Manual Not dated but probably 1972
1972 063402 750 Commando Parts List Not dated but probably 1972
1973 063852 Norton Riders Manual 850 and 750 Models Not dated but probably 1973
1973 064135 750 Commando Riders Manual Not dated but probably 1973 From serial 220000
1973 065034 850 Commando Parts List Not dated but probably 1973 Also includes 750s from serial 212278
1973 065146 Workshop Manual for Norton Commando From 1970
1973 John Player Parts List Supplement Not dated but probably 1973
1975 066240 Norton Riders Manual 850 MK. III Models
1975 00-4224 Workshop Manual for 850 Commando Electric Start Mark 3 Motorcycles
1975 00-5756 Replacement Parts Catalog for 1975

This table attempts to list the carbs that were used for each Commando version. Click the Details link for specifics on the carbs.  See the notes at the bottom.  Much of this info comes from modern-day Amal and it's likely that some of the weird years are because that's when they received orders from Norton.  If you have original carbs, look at the numbers on the sides to match what you need.  Also, changing exhaust, air cleaners, and modern gas may require jetting changes.  Feel free to call to discuss!

Note: Traditionally, all AMAL carbs have been made of a Zinc alloy.  They have discontinued that and are producing them in aluminum.  Aluminum is quite a bit lighter, and more wear resistant.  For Norton, AMAL supplied #17 Pilot Jets for Premier carbs deigned for 750s and #19 for 850s.  They are now suppling #19 for all.

Years Model Engine Right Left ACK/PACK
1968 Commando 750cc R930/26 L930/27 133 Details
1969 Commando 750cc R930/30 L930/31 134 Details
1970 Commando 750cc R930/46 L930/47 135 Details
1970-1971 Commando 750cc R930/63 R930/64 (7) 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 (5) 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 (MKIII?) 850cc R932/33 L932/34 113 Details
1974 (1) Commando Mk 2 850cc R932/35 L932/36 138 Details
1974 and later (2)(4)(6) Commando Roadster MKIII 850cc R932/42 L932/43 114 Details

(1) The Roadster and Interstate had different pipes in 1973/1974 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. Also, it is likely that all MK2A and MKIII used 33/34 with 220 main jets.
     Also MKIII was not a 1974 model, it was a 1975 model and there was no MK2A in 1975. So, the 1974 Mk 2A version seems correct but the second (MKIII?) is not - see more extensive notes in Details.
(3) Note that several models used this for 1973/1974
(4) This is most likely wrong. Amal lists this set as 1974 MKIII - no such thing and MKIII should be 33/34.
(5) There were two heads for 1973 750.  RH5 (standard compression) and RH6 (high compression).  Apparently, they used the same carbs.
(6) There is no evidence that this pair was ever actually used by Norton.  There was an order to Amal, but nothing says that the carbs were delivered or used.
(7) There is no ACK or PACK Number for these but they are available individually. It's not clear if they were ever actually used by Norton

When ordering carbs from Amal (or me), you can order by "ACK" or "PACK" number. "ACK" is standard carbs and "PACK" is premier.  As best I can tell, AMAL is no longer producing non-premier carbs.

Burlen, the parent of the AMAL Carb Company    The AMAL Carb Company     Tri-Spark, inovative electrical products for the Vintage British Motorcycle     Wassell, the 70+ year old suppliers of British Motorcycle parts     cNw has become a leader in bringing new parts and improvements to the Norton motorcycle market.
Copyright © 2003-2024 Greg Marsh Enterprises
 8116 Arlington Blvd. #171, Falls Church, VA 22042, (703) 200-4025