The Norton Dominator has proved to be a popular choice for ‘café racer’ conversions over the years, and this 1960 Dominator 99 is a particularly well-presented example. Although the legendary Birmingham-based firm was well known for its range of single-cylinder engines for road and race, Norton nonetheless responded to Triumph’s Speed Twin with the Model 7 Dominator, which was launched in late 1948.
Bert Hopwood had recently joined Norton from Triumph and brought with him knowledge of that firm’s twin-cylinder engines. His original Norton design was a 497cc air-cooled parallel twin, and this enduring powerplant would gradually evolve into the 828cc unit that was used in the 1970s Commando.
The first major upgrade for the Dominator came with launch of the Model 88 in 1952. Although it retained the 497cc engine, it featured the ground-breaking Rex McCandless-designed Featherbed frame, which offered a considerable weight-saving.
The original Model 7 was dropped in 1956 and the 596cc Model 99 was added to the Dominator range, to run alongside the smaller-capacity Model 88. It was fitted with telescopic forks at the front and twin dampers at the rear, plus drum brakes, and the top speed of the 1957 Dominator 99 was quoted as being 96mph. The dry-sump engine, running on a single Amal carburettor, produced 31bhp.
In 1958, both the Model 88 and 99 received coil ignition in place of the old magneto, as well as the option of twin carburettors, and two years later they were updated with the slimline version of the Featherbed frame.
The Dominator Model 99 that is being offered for sale was first registered on 1 May 1960, and its frame number – and matching engine number – is R1490071. It has been converted to evoke the shortlived 500cc Domiracer that was developed by engineer Doug Hele, who managed to coax 55bhp at 8000rpm out of the 497cc engine.
Dennis Greenfield and Fred Swift won the 500cc class at the 1960 Thruxton 500 on a Domiracer, and in 1961 Tom Phillis took one around the Isle of Man TT course at over 100mph. Phillis ended up finishing third in the Senior TT behind Mike Hailwood and Bob McIntyre, who were both on Manx Nortons.
The extensive paperwork for 394 UXT shows that the engine was rebuilt in 2007 and 2013, and more recently it has benefitted from an electronic ignition conversion. It also comes with a maintenance manual and instruction book.
The twin-cylinder engine produces plenty of torque and, with its low-line riding position, this well-sorted Norton Dominator 99 offers all the feel of a 1960s road-racer.
- 1960 Norton Dominator 99
- Converted into Domiracer-style race replica
- 596cc air-cooled parallel-twin engine
- Fastidiously maintained with extensive receipts and invoices
more information: classicmotorhub.com