With all the attention sucked away by the coronavirus pandemic, you might have missed the business transaction in 2020 that promises to revitalize Norton Motorcycles, an iconic British brand.
Norton dates to 1898 when it started producing parts. In 1902, the company began producing motorcycles and in 1908 started equipping those bikes with Norton-produced engines. The company’s machines did very well in racing and in supplying the British military in both world wars.
Despite winning the Isle of Man TT races from 1947-1954, the company went into decline, was acquired in 1953 by AMC — not the American automotive company but the UK’s Associated Motor Cycles. There were subsequent ownership and partnership arrangements and in 2020, Norton became part of TVS, the third-largest motorcycle producer in India.
Norton remains based in England, at Solihull, where it produces the V4SS and, coming soon, the Atlas and V4RR.
The latest announcement from the company is the hiring of Robert Hentschel as chief executive (he formerly was a director of Lotus Engineering and most recently worked at Valmet Automotive Holding as managing director) and of Vittorio Urciloli as chief technical officer (he formerly was head of powertrain at Lotus and previously was a project manager at Ferrari and Aprilia racing).
Hentschel replaces John Russell, Harley-Davidson’s former vice president and managing director for Europe, who was brought in as interim head to stabilize Norton after TVS’s acquisition.
“TVS has created a plan for Norton to transform into the future,” Sudarshan Venu, joint managing director of TVW Motors, is quoted in the latest news release. “The brand will retain its core values which will be interpreted in a modern way for the customers of today and tomorrow.”
Venu also praised Russell’s role during the transition period in getting the company ready for “the next stage of its rebirth.”
“Norton is once again poised to build the finest motorcycles in the world,” Hentschel added.