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350cc and 500cc Petty Manx Norton

350cc and 500cc Petty Manx Norton

Ray Petty gained fame in road racing circles as a leading tuner, especially of the Manx Norton engine. He had more successes with it that any other independant and was best known for dettling Derek Minter's singles to win five British Championships between 1962 and 1966.

The Farnborough-based engineer was also associated with other top riders and prepared a Norton that took Percy May to the 1971 500cc British Championship, the last to be won by a single-cylinder machine.

Petty ventured into frame design and began marketing chassis kits in 1971. Fabricated in lightweight T45 tube by welding specialist Colin Dixon, Petty's low-slung, quick-steering frame was intended to keep the Manx competitive on short circuits. A road version was also made to house the 750cc Norton Commando engine.

Of elecen race frames made, one supplied to the West Midlands based Bee Bee Brothers equipe was the most successful. Fitted with a 500cc Manx engine it was ridden by Malcolm Lucas, who kept the Norton name alive on British circuits through the Seventies, winning races and championships.

The red and silver machine is the fomrer Bee Bee Petty Manx with frame number 7. Iw as acquired in the late eighties by classic racer Adrian Sellars, who also obtained frame number 8 to build the green and silver 350cc Petty Norton. The smaller machine has Petty's special front fork with fabricated top yokes.

Ray Petty died in 1987, when his Manx service was taken over and greatly expanded by Derbyshire firm Summerfield Engineering. More recently another company, Whire Rose Racing, used frame Number 7 as a pattern for a near-replica of the Petty Manx frame. Its widespread success in classic racing is a tribute to the original Petty design.

Specifications
  • Engines - 499cc (86 x 85.62mm) and 348cc (76 x 76.7mm). Air-cooled doubled overhead camshaft, single cylinder. Amal carburettor, Lucas magneto ignition
  • Transmission - Chain primary drive, dry multi-plate clutch, six-speed gearbox, chain final drive
  • Chassis - Tubular double cradle frame, telescopic fork front suspension, swinging arm rear suspension, drum brakes
  • Wheels - 18in
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