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Norton Motorcycles Bought Out of Bankruptcy Administration by TVS Motor

With the rise of interest in retro-style machines, and the success of fellow British icon Triumph Motorcycles, Norton Motorcycles showed promise in recent years – even announcing high-performance Atlas 650cc models. Competition, and financial pressures, however, forced Norton into the British equivalent of bankruptcy earlier this year.

With the coronavirus pandemic threatening even the most robust, established manufacturers, Norton almost certainly seemed dead and buried. Enter TVS Motor, an Indian firm with ties to BMW. Last Friday, TVS announced that it had purchased Norton Motorcycles with the intent to expand the marque, and maintain primary production facilities in the UK. The price paid was reportedly £16 million (roughly $20 million).

Norton Atlas 650 models announced in November, 2018

48 Comments

  1. Larry Dwyer says:

    The original Commando was beautiful, Kenny Dreer’s update was gorgeous. Royal Enfield are selling heaps of 650 twins and hardly anybody remembers the English Enfield company made twins in the fifties and sixties ( Constellations and Interceptors). The new Norton should build sweet looking, torquey twins that don’t vibrate apart every fortnight. Even Kawasaki make a twin that almost looks more ( old ) English than the Triumphs!
    Good luck to TVS, the more choice the better.

  2. Fastship says:

    It was not “Competition, and financial pressures” is was being run by a fraudster and rank amateur that did for them. At least in that respect, he held up the traditions of the British motorcycle industry.

    And whilst on the subject of British marques, Triumph, who trade heavily on their “British” identity and heritage, have recently closed their UK production and now make all their bikes in Thailand.

  3. Henry says:

    Norton make a lot of the Commando bits from solid billet on modern machinery, hopelessly expensive way to do things so I would expect the new owners to cast or forge them at their much cheaper factories in India, where the set up costs are a fraction of those in the UK (not that there are many capable casting engineers left in Blighty). The more modern designs, can’t really see the point of them as low production units and the 650 was already slated for Indian production.

    BTW TVS have said they will honour production of bikes where deposits have been received, possibly to keep the integrity of the brand intact or even because they expect to still make a profit out of them using improved production.

  4. Kent Taylor says:

    I see another company based in India, Mahindra, owns the rights to the BSA marque! What a hoot it would be to see Triumph, Norton and BSA all back on the street again!

  5. SamG says:

    Best wishes to TVS. I hope that they can pull this off. Do not discount them because they are an Indian company. I own a 2018 Royal Enfield and have been impressed with quality of materials, engineering, fit, finish and trim. Harley-Davidson and KTM have manufacturing facilities there and others are considering the same. Being affiliated with BMW isn’t a bad thing at all. TVS already builds the BMW310, which is a very nice smaller bike….GO NORTON!!

  6. MGNorge says:

    For those who appreciate such things, here’s an expensive example of a beautiful Norton, upgraded and put back on the road.
    https://coloradonortonworks.com/110-2/

  7. Randy Talburt says:

    I’m hoping for someone, somebody, some company to save this beautiful marque. I wish I’d had the money, time and patience to get one of the 961s they made. Their business MO was flawed but their heart was in the right place, at times. The previous owner was doing some desperate things to keep the dream alive. Delorean and Hesketh come to mind. I hope this makes a comeback like Indian has. What few bikers are left, I hope, have the means to get a product to make them smile. I’d be grinning like an idiot if I had a Motus and a Norton to greet me in the garage daily.

  8. Marcus says:

    Let Norton Rest In Peace already. If TVS wants to save a motorcycle company why not MZ? MZ was on to something with their 1000S.
    IIRC it was winning shootouts against the Japanese liter bikes in the early 2000’s.

    • JVB says:

      I saw one in a Dealer Update NY, which also sold Urals, years ago. Figure someone would have grafted that engine into something else by now. Same for the EBR 1200 engine that Rotax helped design. That’s gotta cut design time for a struggling company.

  9. rick says:

    make the bike affordable too 9K-12.5K! for the Atlas 650cc

  10. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    Anonymouse must have taken his grumpy pill today. The Gilmore Indians were overpriced, not so reliable Harleys with valanced fenders under an old owner, but the new Indians are quite something different, and doing much better. Hopefully, with some investment capital from much deeper pockets from TVS, they can do the same for Norton that Polaris did for Indian.

    • The Anonymouse says:

      Easy there Glen Campbell, I never mentioned Indian (Polaris) in reference to this. You did.

      “Grumpy Pill”…LOL!

      Have you had your coffee and comprehension pill yet? Good…

      Yes, the new Native Americans are great motorcycles, both stylistically and mechanically.

      But that doesn’t mean they’re selling like crazy. Nothing really is.

      And the new 1250 Harley “Custom” I did mention is fugly and cheap looking. That cow-patty ain’t going anywhere with sales. I don’t much care for the tiny tanked Native American Scout series and that “Custom” is even less desirable in my eyes. Not your eyes, my eyes. It’s your money to spend as you see fit and to sit your butt on what you think suits you.

      No one needs another garage queen butt-jewelry…well maybe Jay Leno does, let alone a motorcycle. The new 650 Royal Enfield 650s are great, affordable bikes but I’ve only seen two on the road. Then again, I’ve only seen ONE of the new Goldwings on the road too.

    • Rhinestone Kawboy says:

      Well, Grumpy, you weren’t talking about looks or sales numbers I don’t think, just complaining about the former high cost of the Nortons. I guess you are assuming that TVS will do the same. If they do, they will probably meet with the same conclusion that Norton’s previous owners did, but I doubt they will be going that route. I’m sure more affordability will be on their radar. I only mentioned Indian, because the same happened there, old owner didn’t have enough money to produce reasonably priced or possibly reliable bikes, but Polaris had the money to get Indian back on track. No, there’s not a whole lot of new bikes being sold at least in the USA like years before, but that doesn’t mean that improvements from a new more well financed owner can’t make improvements. Have a good one, stay safe, and ride free.

  11. Mitch says:

    Just make it affordable!

  12. wjf says:

    How many other mnf’s have gone by the wayside in recent memory?

  13. frank says:

    I for one think Norton’s are some of the most beautiful bikes ever made, and if they can be priced competitively, built well, and supported like they’d need to be…(strong enough dealership presence, service centers, and parts availability), trends suggest they will receive strong consideration by young buyers, and I think by the rest of us with an eye for classic styling. My first experience with Norton was a 750 Atlas. I’d love to see a modern version of that bike, just not too modern looking.

  14. Joe Robinson says:

    Unfortunately there were many people who paid deposits, and in some case the whole purchase price for Nortons they will never see.Others had there bikes taken from them when they were being serviced or having Warranty work done. I think that the Norton name has now beed dragged through the sh*t and no one here in England is ever likely to buy one – not lease the Pension Fund holders who lost all there money as well.

  15. TP says:

    I wish the new owners well. The previous ones should go to prison.
    I don’t expect $10,000 bikes competing with Triumph and the Big Four.
    These owners will be end up entranced with marketing a bespoke motorcycle that nobody is going to buy.

  16. Tim says:

    The fact that the last few attempts to revive Norton have failed means nothing. The brand is finally owned by a company with the resources to revive it. Don’t be surprised if we see Norton bikes for under $10,000 within a couple of years. Millennials appreciate retro style bikes, and TVS has the resources to make this work.

  17. Grover says:

    Nobody that actually rides is getting excited about the resurgence of Norton. All the guys that used to ride Norton’s are probably dead or in no condition to ride. Buying a $40,000 penis extender to show your mates is what this is all about. We’re supposed to learn from history, but I see that no one is paying attention when it comes to Norton.

    • Trent says:

      I believe Keanu Reeves still rides a Norton. Maybe he should have bought the company. Except he already has one.

      • Jim says:

        You’re missing the boat Grover—-obviously you’ve never ridden a Norton. They’re a blast to ride and there are plenty of us sub-60-year-olds who ride the piss out of them (mine is a 71 Commando). I’d love to see a new 650 Atlas get produced by a professional company with a real dealer network (and I realize that’s a stretch).

        • Grover says:

          I guess I missed the boat in my 40 years of riding as I’ve never been impressed with vertical twins from the 60′-70’s. Glad your Norton is a runner and your happy with it.

  18. MGNorge says:

    I guess I can’t blame them for trying but egad, can’t imagine trying to pull a marque up by its foot pegs in the motorcycle atmosphere we have today.

  19. Neal says:

    This seems completely irrelevant to north american riders who don’t have access to Nortons or TVSs.

  20. Mick says:

    I’ll never understand the retro people. To my eye, these are perfectly wonderful looking retro bikes. So what if they cost as much as a fully loaded Super Ultra Heavy Fat Wide Soft Sping Bob Boy Heritage Classic. Park one of these next to one of those Soft Sping Bobs. Which bike would you rather actually ride?

    Never mind. I’ll never ask. Because I’m quite certain that you need to be insane to know.

  21. Jim says:

    Dirk, You WAAAAAY oversimplified this story. There are elements including defrauded pension funds, stealing parts from customer’s bike in for service to finish new bikes etc etc etc

  22. ABQ says:

    Instead of creating a whole new company, they could have just made a Norton Edition of some other bike. Slap a Norton gas tank on a Ducati Scrambler or on a KTM Super Duke, or on a BMW F800r…and Voila.There is more money to be made from selling custom parts than from making an over priced bike to pose with.

  23. mickey says:

    Geezalou, here we go again. Let the once great marquee rest in peace. PLEASE!

    • Phil Schilling, “Cycle” magazine, From 1974……………..”The Norton vertical twin should have died and gone to legend a generation ago. In a world of perfect logic, engine designs should never maunder on for decades and finally be crushed by onrushing technology. Good ideas deserve better. Good engines should go to harvest in the fullness of their autumn; most mechanical things which struggle on simply die cold and wretched in December.
      Seasons do not cover England in perfect symmetry. Spring is cold and damp, and so is fall and winter. Onrushing technology there slows; the present walks in cadence with the past. And mechanical things like the Norton twin soldier on and on…through the Fifties…into the Sixties…and reach the mid-Seventies. In other places, someone would have raised the last hurrah at an earlier stage-when the original 500 twin turned to a 600, or 650, or 750, or 850. But somehow, no matter how deep Norton reaches into December, the final cheer never comes. There’s only the next hurrah.”

  24. Fred N says:

    Years ago, I was reading a magazine interview of Hinckley Triumph then boss, John Bloor.
    The Interviewer asked Mr Bloor would Triumph be releasing old styled bikes OR modern Japanese design’s ?
    Mr Bloor frankly said IF they initially turned out a modern Meriden bike first up, the Project would be over and the Company would be bankrupt once the initial Buyers had bought at the high prices needed to produce a new low volume bike.

    The words ran like :”I want Triumph to be surviving Company with 25,000 units per annum and rising, so not a remade Museum Collection like Norton, AJS, Matchless, Villiers of faded hopes and dreams. There are enough of them now, but new Buyers, probably not”.
    The Old Bikes of yesterday were well down the list of Triumph Projects was the gist of the story.
    Turned out he was very well researched in his paying Buyer wants, wasn’t he ?

    • Spindizzy says:

      John Bloor still owns and controls Triumph, he’s a ‘now boss’ not a ‘then boss’.

      • Fred N says:

        Old John has been retired for a few years now.
        He handed the controlling reins to his Son, Nick.
        In 2019, his Triumph dividends were UKP 6 Million.

        From Triumph’s Wiki: In early 2011 Nick Bloor, John Bloor’s son, took over from Tue Mantoni as CEO of Triumph Motorcycles
        A Wiki footnote: Mr Bloor Snr invested over £80 million in Triumph Motorcycles before it first broke even in 2000.
        Norton was doomed without a chance based on it’s very low cash inflow, and the previous Owner milking the capital dry from within.

      • Fastship says:

        Triumph, who trade heavily on their “British” identity and heritage, have recently closed their UK production and now make all their bikes in Thailand.

  25. Jim says:

    So Garner took Kenny Dreer’s beautiful designs and squandered them. A fitting end.

  26. Tom K. says:

    Good looking bikes, I would have bought one if it had weighed less and had more horsepower.

    At least it was an Indian (the world’s largest democracy) company that bought them and not the Chinese. As it is looking more and more that the Coronavirus was China’s largest export to date, either through negligence or malice, I’m looking to NOT spend dollars on anything produced by the CCP anytime soon (wish me luck). Never heard of TVS, I’ll have to give them a lookup. At one time, the saying was, “The sun never sets on the British Empire”. How the mighty have fallen, but we in the States shouldn’t feel smug about it, because if we don’t change things, we’re next. Can anyone say that GM is still an “American Company”?

    • paul says:

      GM and their products should be banished from this continent. Billions in tax-payer funded bail-outs and then they base a large portion of their business and production out of China. Plus, the vehicles they produce are crap which matches their attitude toward their customers.

      • JVB says:

        Lets not forget that GM has it’s HQ in the USA; not Bahamas. Lets not forget that the NADA ensures that every OEM cannot own dealerships, so your anger should be at the dealer. Lets not forget that after 9/11 GM donated vehicles to the emergency relief activities, and matched 1:1 every dollar their employees donated to the relief; Toyota – Nope. Lets not forget, that GM paid every dollar back following the extreme recession triggered by banker’s greed. Lets not forget that GM is a global company that generates significant manufacturing in the USA still; can you say that about your TVs MFR?

  27. Jim says:

    I wouldn’t poo-poo this. TVS assembles the bikes in England, but sources sub assemblies in Asia. Cost of production goes down and some of those savings go to reduced retail prices. Perhaps with the assistance of BMW they work out world wide distribution. Like Land Rover and Jaguar, Norton is an iconic brand that will generate interest.

    What do they need to be successful, sell 4000-5000 bikes?

  28. EZ Mark says:

    There sure are a lot of people with tons of money to waste buying old brands that have failed repeatedly.

  29. Mike Simmons says:

    I for one wish them well. I would hate to see a storied marque like Norton fade off into oblivion.

  30. Tom R says:

    So, a big benefactor comes to the rescue of the resurrected Norton. TVS’s annual business meetings pastry budget is probably greater than what they paid for it.

    Oh, the irony continues. Jaguar, Land Rover, Royal Enfield, and now Norton are now in the hands of companies from what was once a land of the Great British Colonial Empire. I wonder if Triumph can avoid this fate?

  31. The Anonymouse says:

    Just when you thought deep pockets idiots were on the Endangered Feces List®, along comes a buyer for Norton. Overpriced butt-jewelry for the most hirsute Hipsters. Outside of MAYBE the turd world, motorcycles are anything but a necessity but that doesn’t meant they shouldn’t be AFFORDABLE.

    Sorry Dirck. I hope this latest version of Norton goes under and stays there. Gawd…I just saw a rendering of what the new )gnu?) Harley 1250 Custom is purported to look like. Cheap and tawdry come to mind. No wonder there are few new riders and those with the money aren’t buying into the lifestyle BS let alone the usurious pricing that is today’s motorcycling.

    Cue the peanut gallery that just “love” everything but would buy ________ “if only it weighed less and had l200+ HP at the rear end.

    • Tank says:

      I’d buy it if I weighed less and had more horsepower.

    • Jeremy says:

      So you hope they go under simply because you can’t afford one?

      The bikes were affordable to many. Perhaps not you, but then they aren’t obligated to cater to your budget. Plenty of other manufacturers willing to do that.