Last week TVS Motor Company said in a regulatory filing, “We wish to inform you that an overseas subsidiary of TVS Motor Company Ltd (TVS Motor) has today (17 April, 2020) signed an asset purchase agreement with, amongst others, Norton Motorcycles Holdings Ltd (in administration) and Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd (in administration) (together Norton) to acquire certain assets from Norton, including, the brand Norton and other associated brands. The transaction was also completed simultaneously.”
TVS Motor Company has acquired Britain’s Norton Motorcycles for GBP16 million (Rs 153.12 crore). One of the most iconic British motorcycle brands of all time. Norton Motorcycles manufactured popular products like V4 RR, Dominator, Commando 961 Cafe Racer MK II and Commando 961 Sport MK II.
But what is the story of Norton Motorcycles?
Let’s find out.
Norton Motorcycles came into existence in 1898 as a bicycle parts supplier. It was founded by James Lansdowne Norton. For the first few years, Norton supplied bicycle parts. It wasn’t until 1902 that the company started building its own motorcycles. The first Norton bike was the Energette, powered by a 143cc engine that was sourced from Belgium.
Norton took the next major leap in 1907 when it built its own engine – the iconic Big Four with 633cc capacity. It was so successful that it remained in production for nearly five decades. The last Norton bike with the Big Four engine was sold in 1954.
Norton also supplied the British army during both the World Wars. In the second World War, a quarter of the bikes used by the British army were Nortons.
The road to glory
Dominator, Commando, Manx – some of the legendary Norton motorcycles. But it was not an easy road to glory.
Norton Motorcycles has seen several ownership changes throughout its history.
The first time Norton experienced financial troubles was in 1913, just before the first World War. The company found a lifeline thanks to RT Shelly and Company.
In 1953 as the motorcycle industry went into a recession, Norton faced its next major challenge as major shareholders started to quit. It was eventually acquired by Associated Motor Cycles. Subsequently, Norton Dominator Twins and Norton Atlas kept the company’s sales strong.
Over the next few years, Norton went through a reformation and renamed Norton-Villiers. Another British brand BSA-Triumph was also going through financial difficulties. The UK government stepped in to merge Norton and BSA Triumph.
A few decades later, Norton was acquired by Canada’s Wildrose Ventures in 1993. However, within a year, it was sold to another company Aquilini Investments. Until 2008, Norton was under American ownership. It was bought by Stuart Garner, a UK-based businessman in 2008.
In January 2020, Norton went into liquidation. In April 2020, TVS Motor Company announced the acquisition of Norton Motorcycles.
TVS Motor has said it will help ‘Norton to regain its full glory’. Hope this acquisition revives the legacy of Norton Motorcycles.
Source: Businessinsider, Indiatoday