Engine swaps have been a hot rod tradition for years, no sooner were there two models of almost anything and someone starts thinking, “What if I put this engine in that?” In the world of cars some extraordinary vehicles came about as a result, far too many to mention, but one great example most everyone is familiar with were the AC Cobras, where Carrol Shelby crossed the AC Ace with both small block and big block Ford engines.
To a lesser degree, motorcycles followed the same route, though most of the examples that come readily to mind are British. Italians did the same but I don’t know of many Japanese examples, none come to mind though I’m sure there must have been some built along the way.
The British had many great old marques and many great engines and frames, but somehow it seems the two didn’t always get together at the factory so owners took matters into their own hands and built Tritons (Triumph engine, Norton frame), Tribsas (Triumph engine, BSA frame) and Norvins (Vincent engine, Norton frame). – Hmm… why wasn’t that called a Vinton? Anyway, cool bikes that gained quite a following of their own.
Please see update below
Phil Cotton, who has been around motorcycles for most of his life and who ran a motorcycle museum of sorts has been selling older machines to customers after rebuilding and restoration. As we mentioned a while back, you can now buy brand new Vincent engines due to the demand from old restorers, and Phil decided that would make a fine start for building brand new Norvins. So, now he does. He uses lots of current parts in a Manx type frame, 5 speed transmission, electric start, electronic ignition, components not found on the original but something to give up to date reliability while still enjoying the appearance and original riding style.
These bikes are great looking machines. It’s the kind of thing most us us would love to have in our garage, ready for that weekend ride while wearing our Belstaffs and Cromwell. Since these are built to order in competition sprint, semi touring or cafe race trim, the price varies and you can be pretty well guaranteed of not seeing another at a stoplight. This kind of hand built beauty gets me all warm inside. If it’s something you find interesting, give Phil a call. Oh, yes, he builds Egli Vincents, too.
Update: Just a day after posting this, I was perusing the magazines at my local Barnes and Noble and noticed a small entry in “Classic Motorcycle Mechanics” about John Mossey Restorations stating that he has just come out with this very motorcycle. It seems that Phil Cotton may be a distributor, not the actual builder of the new Norvin. John Mossey’s website mentions the bike but has few details. The site also mentions the Egli Vincents so it definitely seems he makes the bikes. I’ll be following up with more information. Stay tuned. John Mossey Restorations