Three Commandos, led by a rare John Player 850, listed for timed online auction.

Shannons second online-only auction – the 2020 Winter Timed Online Auction – this 19-26 August will feature thirteen motorcycles amongst the 149 lots of automobiles, commercial vehicles, petroliana, garagenalia, collectables and heritage number plates.

The expected top sellers amongst the bikes are a trio of Norton Commandos. And top of that group is a rare and very desirable 1974 ‘John Player’ Commando 850.

1974 Norton Commando ‘John Player’ 850

Inspired by Norton’s Formula 750 road racers that were sponsored by the English tobacco company, the ‘John Player Norton’ (JPN) was introduced in 1974 to celebrate the factory team’s win at the F750 Isle of Man TT the previous year. Only produced for one year (John Player sponsorship ended in ’74), the bulk of the 200-unit production of JPN Commandos went to the USA, making them a rare sight anywhere else, including here in Australia.

While highly desirable now, the JPN was a tough sell when new, not least for the 20 per cent price premium it carried over a standard Commando 850, but also for the race-inspired fairing that many customers felt was just a bit too weird.

Beyond that fairing, the JPN was defined by a disc front brake, right-side shift pedal, 30mm intake ports and 32mm Amal carbies. The rest was largely unchanged from a stock Commando Mk2A, including the 828cc air-cooled OHV parallel twin engine, twin downtube cradle frame, twin shock rear suspension, rear drum brake and 18-inch wheels.

The example consigned for the 2020 Winter Timed Online Auction was formerly owned by well-known Norton collector and aficionado Paul Hibberd, who also restored it. The consignor’s only change since purchasing it from Hibberd in 2016 was the addition of an Alton electric starter.

With only 20,363 miles on the odometer, this one-year-only JPN is expected to sell in the $24,000 – $28,000 range.

1971 Norton Commando 750

The second Norton Commando in the group is a 1971 750 that had in excess of $20,000 spent on new or NOS parts during its restoration.

A matching frame and engine example, this Commando was also restored by Paul Hibberd and also runs an Alton starter motor upgrade – a $3,400 expense on its own. New clutch plates, new carburettors, NOS fuel tank, new wiring loom and a new rear wheel are amongst its many replacement parts, most of which were sourced from the UK.

With just 150 miles covered since the big-dollar resto was completed, this bike’s condition, not to mention its significance as one of Norton’s most hallowed models, has seen it given a $20,000-$25,000 estimate. To further tempt buyers, this Commando is now being offered with No Reserve.

1968 Norton Commando 750 ‘Fastback’

The third and final Commando up for grabs is a 1968 Norton Commando 750 ‘Fastback’. Finished in British Racing Green, this standout example carries all the early Commando features, from the canted 745cc pushrod parallel twin engine, 4-speed gearbox, right-side shifter, twin leading shoe drum front brake, distinctive fibreglass tail (that led to the model’s nickname) and silver side covers.

Another matching numbers example previously restored by Paul Hibberd, this Commando has covered just 12 miles since restoration and comes with a side cover sticker and an original Norton hand pump. Ahead of the 19-26 August auction, this bike has been given a $15,000-$18,000 estimate by Shannons.

All three Commandos for the 2020 Winter Timed Online Auction are located in NSW and are running, rideable machines, but are being sold unregistered. They join other Brit bike consignments that include a 1970 Triumph T120R Bonneville, 1958 Ariel VH Red Hunter 500, 1935 Panther Model 100, 1930 Sunbeam Model 9 and a 1929 BSA S-209 500.

A 1969 Ducati Mk3 250, 1985 Ducati 900 S2 and 1954 Puch SGS Super Sports 250 are also up for grabs, along with a rare Australian-made veteran in the form of a 1912 Peerless.

Consignments for this auction are located in both Sydney and Melbourne, with the Sydney showroom open for inspections (with reduced hours), but the Melbourne showroom remains closed under Stage 4 COVID-19 lockdown.

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