|Engine||745 cc air-cooled overhead valve parallel twin|
|Transmission||four-speed, chain final drive|
|Weight||380 pounds (170 kg) (wet)|
The P11 was a Norton-Villiers motorcycle made from 1967 to 1969. In 1968 the P11 was revised to the P11A and marketed as the Norton Ranger, a road legal version of the P11 with a more comfortable seat to make it suitable for normal road use. The Norton P11 gained a reputation as a 'desert racer' in the late 1960s but by 1969 lighter two stroke desert racers began to dominate the sport and the Norton Commando had started production and was selling well. It was decided to end production of the P11 series to concentrate on the Commando - which used a number of ideas developed on the P11 series.
Norton-Villiers developed the P11 from the Norton Atlas as an export model for the growing sport of desert racing. Prototyped by Californian Norton Distributor Bob Blair using the Atlas 750cc twin cylinder engine in a Matchless G85 CS (Competition Scrambles) Reynolds 531 lightweight steel frame. Blair might have been responding to requests from the importer, Joseph Berliner of Berliner Motor Corporation. The aim was to achieve the best possible power-to-weight ratio, so all the cycle parts were made as light as possible, with a small alloy fuel tank. The magneto and Monobloc carburettors on the prototype were replaced with twin coil capacitor ignition and twin Amal Concentric carburettors, as well as a speedometer and tachometer and an alloy sump guard. The fuel tank and alloy oil tank were painted in Candy Apple Red with the frame in black. The new motorcycle was known as Project 11, and although testers of the prototype suggested that it should be called the Cheetah 45, it was eventually shortened to P11 and built at the former Associated Motor Cycles factory in Woolwich, London, largely from spare parts. The first P11 (No. 121007) was completed in March 1967 and the first batch were exported to the US and launched under the advertising slogan "Dynamite on wheels". They sold well with demand outstripping supply.
In 1968 the P11 was revised to the P11A and marketed as the Norton Ranger, a road legal version of the P11 with a more comfortable seat to make it suitable for normal road use as well as off road racing. The P11A/Ranger also had a low level exhaust fitted with long tapered silencers with detachable end caps and baffles. The availability of spare parts at the Norton-Villiers factory led to several changes of specification, and the P11, P11A and Ranger were produced with four different types of oil tanks (two alloy, two steel), 3.6 gallon and 2.2 gallon petrol tanks, different types of handlebars, forks and frames, two ignition systems and two different cylinder heads (with the last models produced using Norton Commando castings. The last model made was the Norton Ranger 750 which was the same as the P.11A/Ranger with stronger side stand mounting brackets, a front brake light and a Ranger 750 transfer on the oil tank and battery cover.
By 1969 however lighter two stroke desert racers began to dominate the sport and the Norton Commando had started production and was selling well. It was decided to end production of the P11 series to concentrate on the Commando - which used a number of ideas developed on the P11 series.
Mike Patrick won the 1968 Californian Desert Race championship on a Norton P11. Leo Goff, in 1970, set several drag racing records with his modified 1969 Norton Ranger, achieving an elapsed time in the 1⁄4 mile (0.40 km) of 11.58 seconds at 118 mph (190 km/h).
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Joe Berliner (or so the story goes) persuaded Bob Blair of ZDS Motors to combine the G15 power train with the lightweight G85CS chassis to produce the final, and most sought-after hybrid - the Norton P11/P11A/Ranger 750 series. As Joe Berliner was by far and away the biggest customer for AMC machinery, the factory lost little time in accommodating his demand for factory-built machines to this specification, and the Norton (or Matchless, according to one sales brochure) P11 was made available for export for 1967 and the early part of '68.
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