1973 Norton 850 Commando

by Lee Shreve
(Newport, NC USA)

Found it in a barn!
For thirty years a friend John and myself have been riding together throughout the southeast and having a whale of a time. He had a 1978 BMWR100/7 and I have had numerous bikes. in 2008 we were riding with his cousin Dave and I mentioned that I would like to find a Norton Commando to restore. I had only seen one in 1973 and fell in love with it then but could not afford it. Over the years I had spied a few and only dreamed of owning one. A couple of weeks later Dave called and said his boss had one unrestored in a barn on his farm and might be interested in parting with it. I told Dave it was worth a fine bottle of scotch to him if this discovery panned out. His boss Tim owned a trucking firm and collected old tractors and trucks. He had purchased the old 1973 Commando in western Virginia and had planned to undertake the restoration but did not find the time to do so. I called Tim and said I would like to see the bike in the near future and left it at that.
About a month later my riding buddy John, his cousin Dave and I took a trip with our wives in our respected ragtops to the mountains of West Virginia for a touring weekend. On the way back I called Tim (the Norton owner) and stopped by his beautiful farm to see the Commando. It was surrounded by old farm equipment and parked in the back of the barn on the center stand with a large puddle of oil underneath. But there was a battery charger attached under the seat. After "tickling " the Amals the bike turned over after the 2nd or third Kick. I rode it up and down the paved driveway and soon money was passing hands. A couple of weeks later I drove from the coast of North Carolina to Raleigh and picked up another friend and continued on to Buchanan, Virginia and picked the bike up. After putting the bike on the back of my truck we met with John, Dave and a group of motorcyclists for lunch at Paint Bank, Virginia and Dave received a nice bottle of scotch.
That was May of 2008 and I have had a love affair with the "Snortin Norton" since.

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