HomePick of the DayDunstall-built 1969 Norton Atlas

Dunstall-built 1969 Norton Atlas


Collecting classic motorcycles is a bit different from collecting classic cars. First off, the owners of classic motorcycles tend to be more hands on than classic car owners, often doing their own restorations not to save money, but simply because they like doing it.

Secondly, and possibly more interesting, is that the cost of entry into classic motorcycle collecting is so much lower than that of classic car collecting. Finally, an advantage for the motorcycle collector is that you can fit more of them in your garage.

This final part can be a curse as I am now up to seven classic bikes and looking at a new project as I write this. Out of control.

Dunstall-built 1969 Norton Atlas | ClassicCars.com Journal
Dunstall mods included unique bodywork

The price part even effects the higher-end classic bikes, and it is difficult to spend serious money on a classic motorcycle unless you are after a special bike with serious history.

The Pick of the Day is one of those rare motorcycles, a 1969 Norton 750 Dunstall Atlas located in Seekonk, Massachusetts.

The Atlas was the predecessor to the Commando, the British company’s best-known street bike, with the 750cc engine later used in the Commando, but with solid mounting in the final iteration of Norton’s famed Featherbed frame. The Commando utilized a rubber-engine-mounting system to reduce vibration.

Dunstall-built 1969 Norton Atlas | ClassicCars.com Journal
The full chrome treatment was a Dunstall option

This bike is something a bit more, though, as it was actually modified by Paul Dunstall and his crew, not in the aftermarket.

Paul Dunstall was basically the Carroll Shelby of motorcycles, taking a already good thing and making it the best version of that thing. His bikes were successful racers and have performance modifications galore, which add up to amazing handling and properly fast motorcycles.

This is a numbers-matching bike that was transferred to Paul Dunstall when new to be modified, according to the dealer advertising the Atlas. There are a lot of Dunstall bikes that were modified by customers, but it is hard to find a Dunstall that was actually completed by Dunstall, especially for the Atlas.

The seller has all the paperwork to back up the claim, according to the ad, which is quite important as the Dunstall factory connection boosts the value of these bikes. This bike has received a complete restoration, the seller says, and looks to be a concours example.

1969 Norton, Dunstall-built 1969 Norton Atlas, ClassicCars.com Journal
The Norton received a full restoration

The cosmetic and chassis modifications that Dunstall performed on this bike include a modified fuel tank, fenders, seat, rear wheel, Dunstall Decibel performance exhaust, Dunstall rear-set foot controls, Dunstall brake levers, suspension and more. 

The engines on Dunstall-modified bikes were disassembled completely to the crankcase and rebuilt with Dunstall’s proven parts, including pistons, camshaft, valves, valve springs, ports and carburetors.  After all these modifications, the horsepower of the Atlas was increased from 49 to 66. 

The 750 Dunstall covered 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, according to period road tests, and had a top speed of 130 mph. This was the Superbike of the 1960s.

I equate this bike in the car world with something like a 1965 Shelby GT350 or a Jaguar E-Type lightweight, both costing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

Happily, this is a motorcycle and offered for $32,900 or best offer. The price might seem high but just completing a restoration this good on a standard non-Dunstall Atlas would cost north of $20,000, making this price seem more palatable.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.



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