Founder: James Lansdowne Norton
Headquarters: Leicestershire, England
Official website: www.nortonmotorcycles.com
Norton is the name of one of the world’s oldest motorcycle manufacturing brands, which was established in the United Kingdom in 1898 and named after its founder, James Lansdowne Norton. The company was closed for several years but was brought back to life in 2008.
The company, established in England in 1898 started the production of motor vehicles only four years after, in 1902. The motors for the first Norton bikes were supplied from France and Switzerland.
The name of the brand, Norton, became famous after the motorcycle racer Rem Fowler took a victory in competitions on the company’s motorcycle. This gave rise to the sporting future of the brand, along with all the future wins (Norton motorcycles won the most prestigious races more than ten times).
Unfortunately, winning the competition did not bring sufficient dividends, the financial state of the company was not stable, the corporation could not operate fully, and the demand for the products fell. As a result, in 1953, the company was bought by Associated Motorcycles (or simply AMC).
In 2008 the legendary brand was revived and introduced its sample vehicles in the same year, in Austria. The motorcycles were officially presented at the Bike-Austria motorcycle exhibition in Tulln a der Donau.
Today the revived Norton produces beautiful and exclusive machines, and all production facilities of the brand are located in its historical homeland, in England. All the vehicles are handmade, which does not allow to release of bikes in large quantities, though exclusiveness raises the value of the Norton motorcycles. The bikes are known for their classic design and use of the best manufacturers’ details, such as Brembo brakes and Ohlins shock absorbers.
The visual identity of Norton hasn’t changed much since the introduction of its first logo version. It is still the same monochrome logotype executed in a custom typeface, just with cleaned and emboldened lines and contours, which look modern and sleek today.
The most interesting thing about the logo of the British motorcycle manufacturer is a bold and sharp horn, placed in the left from the first letter of the inscription, and the elongated tail of the same letter, coming above the whole wordmark and curving under the last “N”.
Font and Color
The Norton logotype is executed in a custom typeface with the letters having its lines bold and smooth. The elongated lines and slightly curved edges make the lettering look playful and fancy, creating a unique character of the brand and making the logo memorable and recognizable.
The closest font to the one from the Norton visual identity is probably Absinette, but with its lines and contours modified.
As for the color palette, Norton drawn its logo in black and usually placed it on a white background. The timeless combination makes it look elegant and powerful at the same time.
The Norton most famous classic motorcycle was first manufactured in1967 and is still being produced by the brand today. Its name is known all over the globe — Norton Commando. Though its release was not easy for the company.
Norton had no money to develop a new motorcycle with a big 750 CC engine. But there were big human resources of the new owner of the brand, AMC. And there was already one 750 CC engine — from the not popular model for the American market, the Norton Atlas. The model was not successful because of the high price and great vibration from the badly balanced inline two-cylinder engine.
Former Rolls-Royce engineer Stephan Baer and Norton-Villiers chief engineer Bernard Hoper took over the design and production of the new model. They isolated the engine, gearbox, and rear suspension from the rest of the frame with a system of rubber elements. This helped solve the vibration problem. This system was called Isolastic.
The result was the Norton Commando, which blew up the market. From 1968 to 1972, it won the “Motorcycle of the Year” award of the prestigious British magazine Motor Cycle News. The model was produced in various modifications. Among them was a police model, called Interpol.
The racing version of the Norton Commando had disc brakes, forced engines, and a bright and delightful yellow color, and therefore were called Yellow Peril.