The first Featherbed Inter ever built.
When a long-time customer who owned various Nortons rang us and said he planned to sell his featherbed Inter I was only mildly interested and offered to put it on the Norton Motors GmbH homepage, as I tend to do for my customers as a service.
He then mailed photographs and details, and I was amazed. I saw a featherbed Inter, correct in all details but the rather unfortunate combination of black and chrome, making it look a bit like a Zebra. However, all the tinware was original and he confirmed the bike was registered and roadworthy. He told me what he wanted for it and I sent him the money straight away, not even bothering to haggle.
As soon as I had the details, i.e. engine/frame number, I had motorcycle historian Stefan Knittel look it up in our production records and was told this was, in fact, the first 500cc featherbed International ever built. The Earls Court show bike of 1952, a new model for 1953, on loan by the Swiss importer who got it after the show. Since we got it more research showed "garden gate" framed Inters continued to be built for several months and the featherbed Inters very slowly, one or two at a time, crept in until the garden gate models were phased out completely.
Since we had it it was ridden up the Großglockner at the Großglockner Hill Climb by Tim Seifert, hence had the sticker on the front mudguard until it was re-painted, and often along public roads by his father, including a trip to the IoM.
The bike has since been completely apart, tinware re-painted in the original colour, engine rebuilt by Otto Ziegler, the rest of the bike by myself.
The front brake is amazingly good, but the engine, being in production trim, is hardly faster than an ES2. From a practical point of view an ES2 is the better, less stressful bike with fully encapsulated valve gear, less complication, and less mechanical noise.
On an emotional scale, however, the Inter has the looks and, with a little bit of know-how and special parts, can be made into a bike that starts to really fly where an ES2 runs out of steam.