A recent magazine cover photo caught my eye, it was John Mossey’s Noriel Black Velvet on the cover of Classic Bike. It’s one of those thoroughly British creations that comes about when you combine major parts from different marques into one new machine, in this case it’s an Ariel Square Four engine installed, with no small amount of massage and modifications all around, into a classic Norton Featherbed frame.
The result is nothing short of stunning, it looks good from every angle, but this particular combination also reminded me of an article I wrote years ago on The Kneeslider, it was about a Norton Esquire. As noted at that time, I’d never heard of a Norton Esquire nor was I familiar with anyone doing this particular engine swap. The Brits have a way with these things, there’s no telling how many different mix and match mutts there are out there beyond the well known Tritons, Norvins and such, but many of them turn out to be pretty sweet.
The neat thing about looking at the new John Mossey creation next to the Esquire is when you compare the different directions the respective builders took, not to mention what looks good to us now compared to the late 1950s from when the other bike was born. Technology available now is certainly a big factor, disc brakes, Ohlins suspension and more, but the Esquire looks to be a very nice build and consistent with what you would expect from that era.
The exhaust pipes on the Noriel were hand built in the appearance of a Magni MV, the forks are replica Ceriani and look great, it’s a visual smorgasbord that comes together perfectly. It’s a 21st century version of the transplant.
The British seem to do more of this sort of thing than we do here in the States and it’s good to see builders like Mossey continuing the tradition with the high quality craftsmanship displayed here. Very nice work!