CLASSIC IRON: 1967 NORTON 750 P11 SCRAMBLER

 BY TOM WHITE

One of the most unique scrambles bike of the formative years of motocross was the 1967 Norton P11. The British-built machine was built for the U.S. market only as a uniquely different California desert and scrambles racer. The project started in 1966 when West Coast Norton distributor Bob Blair asked U.S. Norton importer Berliner Motors to see if AMS (Associated Motor Cycles) in England would build a scrambler using a 750cc Norton Atlas twin-cylinder engine shoehorned into a Matchless G85CS frame. The Matchless G85CS 500cc single-cylinder machine was having success in European motocross, and Bob Blair thought that a swap to the powerful Norton twin would be perfect for faster and smoother American scrambles races (in the pre-motocross days of American off-road racing). 

Blair’s mechanic, Steve Zabaro, remembers, “The Matchless single-cylinder engine was long in the tooth. We imported 70 G85CSs, which was most of the AMS’ production. They sold out immediately, but there wasn’t a lot of horsepower. The factory didn’t think it was possible to fit the Norton twin into the G85 chassis and said that they wouldn’t do it. We decided to do it ourselves. We took a Norton N15CS Atlas engine and a used G85CS chassis and built the bike in about three weeks.” 

“Mike Patrick tested the prototype machine and loved it, so we shipped it off to AMS to replicate. We rushed to have the machines built for the 1967 selling season. Even at the time, I realized that we were building a dinosaur, because lightweight Husky and CZ two-strokes were already showing up in Southern California.”

The production P11 (with easily removable street gear) became the bike to race in 1967. Mike Patrick won the #1 plate in desert racing for two years in a row on a P11. Though never intended for the motocross events that were just getting started in America, the P11 was raced by Mike at the Hopetown Grand Prix against the European motocross stars. He soon found the limitations of the 750cc twin.

The 1967 P11 was the only scrambler that Norton ever made, and total production was 500 units. The $1339 P11s came with cool-looking high pipes, short mufflers, aluminum fenders, solo seats and twin Amal Concentric carburetors. The shocks were covered Girlings, and the forks had rubber gators. By 1968, the P11 was replaced by the P11A, which was more of a street bike (with low pipes and extra weight). In 1969, all concessions for off-road riding were removed from the P11 Ranger. The era of the dinosaur was over.

1967 NORTON 750 P11 SCRABLERAmal Concentric carburetorAssociated Motor CyclesBerliner Motorsclassic ironclassicironearly years of motocross museumMatchless G85CS 500ccMIKE PATRICKmotocrossmxaNorton N15CS Atlas engineSteve Zabarotom white