Hi all, just new to Norton since I have bought a Commando, I am sure this has been asked many times before but can someone tell me if all commandos came with matching numbers. I have just bought one that was first registered in 1982 and the engine and chassis numbers (whilst matching the V5) don't match.
I have been told that by late 70's Norton were simply assembling machines with engines etc that they had, I have also been informed that all Commando's were indeed matching numbers can anyone tell me which is true?
All up to and including 1973 model year have matching numbers engine to red plate on frame, 74 also have matching numbers engine to red plate on frame but have an additional manufacturer stamp on the frame non matching but sometimes used on the V5. 1975 MK3's start off with matching engine 325000, red plate F125000 and stamped on frame numbers F125000, but the longer it went on the discrepancies entered and they do not always match and the receiver built machines 76/77 are the worst.
Has it ever been documented why Norton Matchless, after seventy years of building motorcycles suddenly decided to cease stamping a proper number on the frame, as every other manufacturer continued to do ?
It's not as if theft of motorcycles was unknown at that time and the red-plate-only number is a fraudster's delight.
I have one that has a frame number starting F126*** with engine and gearbox both starting 305***, no red plate and can't see holes where one may have been. The frame has been powder coated so holes may have been covered. Would it be sensible to buy a new red plate with the correct numbers and fit it?
No VIN plate fitted and the '82 first reg date points to a machine built from parts post final demise of Norton Villiers Triumph whose last MK 3 Commandos were produced in '77. Many Mk 3's were put together from parts in the years after the end of factory built machines - still continuing today I believe from one or two well established Commando parts suppliers. As your machine has a V5 you're OK with DVLA so not having a red VIN might only be a problem if you want to sell the bike - most potential buyers will expect a red VIN plate.
The Commando numbering system suffered several hiccups and inconsistencies during its decade of manufacturing life as Norton's uncertain future lurched from one financial crisis to another. My own '73 MK1a 850 - produced around the time Norton Villiers was in process of changing to NVT - has a VIN plate that only shows the manufacture date stamp ( 9 / 73) while the space for the frame number was left blank when it left the factory. Original registration document showed frame number same as engine number however. See pic.
Thanks for the replies, I didn't know how crazy it is to get your hands on a "correct" Commando, I have read that you can buy a VIN plate from Norvil but unsure if this would be the right thing to do especially if it didn't have one when first produced. Has anyone else retro fitted a VIN plate?
I have one of the batch of machines that was assembled from parts at Marston Road in Wolverhampton. It was produced in February 1978 although the frame has the usual 77 year stamp. It has a complete set of matching numbers, including the gearbox. It did come from the factory as new, however, with a Mk.II front mudguard complete with the fixing holes for the front stay that was not fitted on the Mk.III. Perhaps they ran out of Mk.III mudguards. Obviously, a machine is worth considerably more if the numbers do match but to me, the most important issue is that the bike is fantastic to ride!
Even if non matching numbers if the factory records match the numbers on the bike then the value should be unaffected.
Andover Norton are the best source for blank plates, they will also stamp them free if you have a V5 and get to them before the order is dispatched.
Most of us who have rebuilt Commandos over the years have replaced the headstock plates...They fade and rub on the cables and generally end up looking tatty.
Even frames sold as spare parts had drillings for the hammer drive rivets...I'm sure that you'll find them there somewhere...although John Player Replicas (and I believe Norvil PRs) had the plates under the seat as the headstock was covered by the fairing clamp...This wouldn't have applied to Mk3 850s though.
If you do buy a plate, there are three or four different sorts so do some research first...They don't sit centrally by the way, if you're lookng for the holes.