Norton Dunstall

The Dunstall Norton was a Norton motorcycle made by Paul Dunstall, a specialist tuner of 1960s and early 1970s twins originally using some parts from Norton's Domiracer project when the Birmingham factory was closed in 1963.[2] In 1966 Dunstall Motorcycles became a motorcycle manufacturer in its own right, so that Dunstalls could compete in production races,[3] and set a number of world records before sales of the Dunstall Nortons declined in the 1970s consistent with the demise of the British motor cycle industry and corresponding rise in Japanese imports.

Norton Dunstall 750
1965 specification Dunstall Dominator at 2010 Quail Motorsports Gathering in Carmel, California, US
ManufacturerDunstall Motorcycles
PredecessorNorton Dominator
SuccessorDunstall Commando 750
Engine745 cc (45.5 cu in) air-cooled OHV parallel twin
Transmissionfour-speed, chain final drive
Wheelbase55.5 in (1,410 mm)
Seat height31.5 in (800 mm)
Norton Dunstall 810
ManufacturerDunstall Motorcycles
PredecessorDunstall Commando 750
Engine806 cc (49.2 cu in) air-cooled OHV parallel twin
Bore / stroke76 mm × 89 mm (3.0 in × 3.5 in)
Top speed201 km/h (125 mph)[1]
Power52 kW (70 hp) @ 7,000 rpm (claimed)[1]
Ignition typeBattery and coil
TransmissionMulti-disc clutch, four-speed, chain drive
SuspensionFront: telescopic fork
Rear: Swingarm
BrakesFront: 2×216 mm × 38 mm (8.5 in × 1.5 in) Disc
Rear: 178 mm × 32 mm (7.0 in × 1.25 in) Drum
TiresFront: 3.60−19
Rear: 4.10-10
Wheelbase1,410 mm (55.7 in)
DimensionsW: 740 mm (29 in)
Seat height760 mm (30 in)
Weight187 kg (412 lb) (tank 12 full)[1] (wet)
Fuel capacity19 l; 4.2 imp gal (5.0 US gal)

Paul Dunstall had already turned his attention to modifying Japanese marques before the collapse of Norton (then part of the fated NVT) in 1974. After several more successful years he left the bike scene to concentrate his attention on property development.[4]

Paul Dunstall sold the name in 1982.[3] The name is now owned by Burton Bike Bits Ltd,[5] and trades under the name Dunstall Motorcycles.[6]


Dunstall started modifying Nortons in 1957, at the age of 18, when he converted a Norton Dominator into a competitive racing motorcycle. As well as fitting a Norton Manx gearbox and wheels, Dunstall balanced the crankshaft and installed the Dominator engine into a Manx Norton frame. With places and two outright wins at Brands Hatch in his first season, after graduating to a higher level with places in his second season at other circuits, Dunstall retired from racing to work in his family's scooter shop and develop performance motorcycle parts[3]

Initially Dunstall conceived simple 'bolt on' modifications such as 'Goldie' pattern straight-through replacement silencers which he called 'Hi-Tune'[7] and exhaust pipes, creating his first catalogue in 1961 and gradually growing the business.[3]

Dunstall built engines for other racers and purchased parts left over from Norton's Domiracer project when the factory closed in 1963, using his know-how to further develop high-performance motorcycles built to order.[3]

From 1966, Dunstall's customers could choose from a standard catalogue offering a range of speed parts, race-styled accessories and complete ready-modified bikes[8] from Norton, BSA, and Triumph in capacities from 500cc upwards[3]

In 1966 Dunstall Motorcycles became a motorcycle manufacturer in its own right, so that Dunstalls could compete in production races and the Auto-Cycle Union, which is the governing body for motorcycle racing in Britain, approved Dunstall Dominators as a marque for the production race in the 1967 Isle of Man TT.[3]

The 131 mph (211 km/h) 1967 Dunstall Dominator 750 roadster was tested as the fastest motorcycle on the market at the time of its launch.[9]

The early 1960s Norton factory racers were called Domiracer, and although Dunstall called his roadsters both Dominator and Domiracer at various stages and with varying engine capacities, the 750s were sometimes known as Dunstall Atlas. They were not known as 'Norton Dunstall' - this is a later corruption as all 1960s literature quote Dunstall Norton Dominator, Dunstall Dominator or Dunstall 750 Atlas.[10][11]

The last bikes from the featherbed-based machines in the 1969 catalogue were stated as Dunstall Norton Sprint and Export 750 together with the newest bike in the range the isolastic-framed Dunstall Norton Commando.[12]

By the late 1960s, Dunstall had sold to celebrity customers including film star Steve McQueen and Keith Emerson, of progressive rock band Emerson Lake & Palmer.[4]

After the 1968 race season successes, development of the late-1940s designed parallel twin engine was nearing its zenith for the technology of the time with power outputs of 73 horsepower for the race-spec 745cc Atlas-based engine.[4]

For the 1969 season, Dunstall created a new machine with a lower frontal area, the inclined engine being 'underslung' from a large-diameter steel tubing spine frame (nicknamed The Drainpipe) designed by Eddie Robinson.[13] The main frame component ran front to back with a second large-diameter vertical tube at rear of the power plant carrying the engine oil,[3] avoiding the need for the traditional separate oil tank. The filler was conventionally placed ahead of the seat nose[14]

Although Dunstall's open-class racers (non production-race category) were equipped with lowboy frames[3] based on the works design which Dunstall had acquired during the Norton factory race-shop closure,[14] this re-design was based on an established concept not yet applied to the Norton twin for road racing. With no front downtube(s) hence no conventional engine mountings, the spine frame needed substantial cantilever bracing from the central-point of the frame forwards under the gearbox and engine to control the torque reaction

The original 'drainpipe' configuration included aluminium dual 'pannier' fuel tanks inside the top-half fairing sides to lower the centre of gravity and improve handling but following fuel starvation problems a conventional fuel tank was fitted.[3]

With discontinuation of the featherbed Atlas in 1968, Dunstall first offered his Commando-based roadsters from the 1969 catalogue. Sales of the Dunstall Nortons declined in the 1970s and Dunstall concentrated on Japanese marques, in particular forging strong links with Suzuki, eventually selling the business name in 1982.[3]

In their test of a 1971 Norton Dunstall 810, Cycle World measured the top speed at 201 km/h (125 mph), with a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.7 seconds and a standing 0 to 14 mile (0.00 to 0.40 km) time of 11.9 seconds at 173.62 km/h (107.88 mph).[1] This was the first bike ever in Cycle World's tests with quarter mile time under 12 seconds.[1]

Racing success

In 1967 Rex Butcher (Dunstall's shop manager and regular rider) - supported by Motor Cycle (a UK weekly publication) journalist David Dixon on a second machine - set a number of world records on 750 cc Dunstalls at Monza in Italy, using two machines earlier ridden by Paul Smart (2nd place) and Griff Jenkins (11th place) in the 1967 TT Production race 750cc category (both recorded as 'Norton' in official race result website).[15]

In his 13 September 1967 Motor Cycle article, Dixon reported both bikes were the same production TT race specification with lighting and (road-legal) megaphone-style silencers but had been stripped, checked and re-built, with special preparation being limited to larger six-gallon petrol tanks, modified racing seats, improved fairings from the forthcoming 1968 range and 45 psi tyre pressures. The object was to use two over-the-counter customised bikes, basically the same as could be bought.[16]

During the 1968 British season, Motor Cycle (11 December 1968) cites Dunstall rider Ray Pickrell as securing 17 1st places[17] This total may include the titles 'Master of Mallory' and 'King of Brands' [3] as 'extra' races (having an aggregate result from two legs) due to Dunstall's 1969 catalogue stating 14 wins for 1968 season[18] The 1968 catalogue [19] shows race images of Ray Pickrell aboard lowboy race frames for open category, with production classes on Featherbed framed 750 Dunstall Domiracers.[20]

In June 1968 Pickrell won the Isle of Man Production TT race 750 cc class entered on a 'Dunstall Norton Dominator' with a new lap record (average speed) of 99.39 mph (159.95 km/h).[21]

In October 1969, when anticipating a future challenge at the Monza high-speed, banked-oval circuit of a record held by Moto Guzzi, to trial the machine Pickrell rode a Dunstall Norton during a regular sprint meeting to set a new national record for the 750 cc flying quarter-mile at 144.69 mph (232.86 km/h) at Elvington airfield-runway in Yorkshire.[22]

There are no records of Dunstall's organisation competing during 1970, his regular rider (of two-and-a-half seasons) Ray Pickrell riding for Norton Villiers in 1970,[23] then BSA Triumph in 1971 and 1972[24] Dunstall's shop manager and former regular rider Rex Butcher entered the 1968 TT on a Triumph[25]


  1. "Cycle World Guest Test: Dunstall Norton 810", Cycle World, Newport Beach, California: Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., pp. 46–49, July 1971, ISSN 0011-4286
  2. Motor Cycle, 28 February 1963, Setting the Tune by David Dixon, pp.258-260. Accessed 12 September 2019
  3. "Dunstall Motorcycles History". Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  4. Clark, Ross (13 June 2011). "Dunstall property developer". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  5. "Burton Bike Bits". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  6. "Dunstall Motorcycles". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  7. Motor Cycle, 29 April 1965, p.33 "Paul Dunstall Genuine Domiracer Equipment advertisement". Accessed 5 August 2013
  8. Dunstall, Paul. 1966 Special Equipment Catalogue..for Norton, Triumph & BSA
  9. "MCM Dunstall advertising Paul Dunstall Powerful Dominator". Grace's guide to British Industry. 22 April 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  10. Motor Cycle, 24 June 1965, p.36 Dunstall advert. "A limited number of the fabulous Dunstall 750cc Atlas machines are now available for immediate delivery". Accessed and added 23 February 2015
  11. "Dunstall". Grace's guide to British Industry. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  12. Dunstall, Paul. 1969 Paul Dunstall Special Equipment catalogue.
  13. Classic Bike, August 2002, pp.58-61 Eddie Robinson profile. The man they call the Frame Brain Accessed and added 2 November 2014
  14. "Nolan Woodbury,". Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  15. "TT 1967 Production 750cc Results". Isle of Man TT Official Website. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  16. Dixon, David. Concrete Torture, Motor Cycle 13 September 1967
  17. Motor Cycle Dunstall feature with Hepolite, Amal, Champion advertising congratulations 11 December 1968.
  18. Dunstall, Paul. Special Equipment catalogue.
  19. Dunstall, Paul. Paul Dunstall Catalogue 1/6
  20. "Dunstall Norton". Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  21. "TT 1968 Results". Isle of Man TT Official Website. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  22. Recollections of 'Quasimodo', Classic Racer, Winter 1988, pp.6-12 (EMAP) Accessed 3 January 2018
  23. "TT 1970 Production 750cc Results". Isle of Man TT Official Website. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  24. "Meetings - 1971 - 1990". Isle of Man TT Official Website. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  25. "TT 1968 Production 750cc Results". Isle of Man TT Official Website. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
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