1956 Norton Dominator 88 Cafe Racer *Sold £6,800*

MODELDominator 88
COLOURBlack & Red

1956 Norton Dominator 88 Cafe Racer *Sold £6,800*

1 in stock

  • Alloy tank
  • Dunstall Megaphone exhausts
  • Alloy rims
  • Rebuilt during 2020
  • Original transferable registration
  • This 1956 Norton Dominator sold for £6,800
  • Please scroll down the page past the video to read a full description for this lot

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  • Alloy tank
  • Dunstall Megaphone exhausts
  • Alloy rims
  • Rebuilt during 2020
  • Original transferable registration

Not all bikes are created equal. Owning a Norton is a little like joining an exclusive club. These are not Japanese mass, mass-produced bikes shipped from huge factories. A British built, gorgeous piece of machinery and a proper piece of history. Is there anything  quite like them?


The Norton Dominator was Norton’s response to the very successful Triumph Speed Twin. When it was introduced in 1949, the 500cc Norton was a handsome enough machine. Bert Hopwood who had worked on the Speed Twin project while working for Triumph Motorcycles designed the Norton too.

As a first option, Norton opted to put the new twin engine in the old single frame. Norton borrowed the frame from the ES2, it became a low-volume, hand-built bike. This stuck the new Norton Dominator with a high price relative to the competition at the time.

So, Norton’s legacy of twins got off to a bit of a slow start. The stone-age frame survived until the mid Fifties. Then everything changed. Along came the legendary Featherbed frame.

Two brothers, Rex and Cromie McCandless, offered Norton a new frame to support their successful 500cc race single. They’d made numerous developments to their successful race bike, notably an innovative new frame with a swinging arm fitted with vertical hydraulic shock absorbers. Norton spotted the real opportunity and signed them straight up.

The McCandless’ ultimate end product sign was expensive. It took over forty feet of the best Reynolds steel tubing, in a welded twin loop with a swinging arm fitted with their own type of shock absorbers.

The testing was done at the Isle of Man. It went very well. Tester Harry Daniels, a successful Isle of Man TT racer with three victories and several placings in the Tourist Trophy got off the new bike and said it was like “riding on a featherbed”.

The Dominator was instantly transformed into a world class road warrior. The Featherbed was truly in a class of it’s own. The 500 twin with the revolutionary Featherbed frame made such a massive leap forward that it became a whole new model, the Norton Dominator 88.  The one we have here is one of the last models.


Aesthetically the Model 88 in Café Racer mode is a real head turner. We are told by our knowledgeable vendor Ian, who has carried out a lot of work, much of it during the lockdown of 2020, that everything is in good order.

Get up close and as you can see from our Image Gallery there is cosmetic room for improvement, if you wanted to. On a bike built in 1956, we’d question whether or not that was the thing to do. But the option is there for you.

The alloy tank is the feature that your eyes are drawn to, and it looks smashing.

At the front and rear are Norton alloy mudguards, very nice too. Sitting on top is the one-piece seat and rear seat cowl.

Albeit the top yoke could be polished, if you wanted to, the pointy end of the Norton Dominator has that characterful cluster of grips, levers and quality gauges, both speedo and rev counter.

The wheels are alloy rims and stainless steel spokes and all are in good condition and featured as part of the lockdown overhaul project.

At the heart of the Norton Dominator 88 was an engine that was so ‘right’, back then.

The Bert Hopwood-designed engine was a 497cc vertical twin with 360-degree crank, central flywheel & 2-piece conrods with shell-type plain bearings. One chain-driven camshaft sat high in the crankcase just ahead of the cylinder block. The pushrods passed through a tunnel between the cylinders, operating rocker arms.

All the other rotating bits and bobs were contained behind that distinctive “Y” shaped polished alloy timing chest.

Dropping a Norton 500cc twin into a Featherbed Frame was innovative. It produced the Norton Dominator 88. The 88 back then was the best-handling production motorcycle on earth! It dominated racing both on the street & the track for the next decade. That is just one of many reasons why they were so sought after back in the day. Norton simply could not build them fast enough. Commercially that meant low numbers kept production costs high.

They were a rare sight on the streets, but we all wanted one.

Bottom line

The Norton Dominator is an even rarer sight today.

We always like the voice of our vendors to be heard, not just in the article we write, which is driven by them, but in their own words too.

Ian is a vendor of few words,

Here is my Dom 88 Cafe Racer. It was converted during 1st year of lockdown. It has a number of upgrades, Jones alloy rims, swept back Dunstall Megaphone exhausts, chromed swing arm, alloy tank, clip-ons, black rubber gaiters on Roadholder forks, rev counter and speedo… plus 2 new tyres – all for the best Café Racer image! The mudguards are alloy. It has the single seat. The Dom is excellent running order. The bike’s original registration of JRN 749 is transferable and there’s also a Haynes manual to go with the bike.”

Soul, character, emotion. This is what motorcycling is all about. And good mates. And brilliant runs with good mates.

The small build numbers and high man-power input meant relatively high asking prices for Nortons as opposed to the mass produced oriental stuff. This was more justified with its resale value.

That still works today. Perhaps more so because you are owning a little piece of history. These are rare and command high prices. This one here to sell, not just be advertised.

Good luck bidding! Please remember, our site uses anti-sniping software which ensures fairness to all bidders. So, if a bid for a lot is received in the last minute, the auction will go into a 2-minute overtime period for each subsequent bid.

Vehicle Location: Glasgow G61 – it’s the responsibility of the buyer to make collection / transportation arrangements directly with the vendor.

Have a question about this Norton Dominator? Please contact the Evoke team at auction@evoke-classics.com and we will speak to the vendor on your behalf.

Guide Prices?

We’re different. But you know that. And we’re always honest. In a sector where no two classics are same, how does anyone put a ‘guide’.

Well, everyone knows the broad value of classic, let’s all be honest. So we don’t need to tell you what you already know, do we.

The ‘market’ decides and the old cliché that ‘it’s worth what someone wants to pay’ is no less true. So why kid everyone!

But, because we are different, if it really does matter to you, that’s fine, we want you to be happy. Just drop us a line at auction@evoke-classics.com and one of us will be delighted to ring you back and discuss, it’s what we do.

Tedious but it’s vital you read this, please.

We will always strive to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available. However, we can’t claim to be perfect. Your own analysis is very important and we are here to help and also answer any and all queries you may have prior to purchase.

We offer and positively encourage buyers to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding.

If we do take a physical, as opposed to a remote, look at any of the vehicles on our platform, they are not those of a qualified vehicle inspector or other professional. Nor do they include a test drive unless expressly stated.

As with all vehicles of a certain age, localised paint repairs are common. This specifically applies with classics.

So, please, unless we state explicitly to the contrary, please assume that classic vehicles on our platform could have had remedial bodywork of any kind at some point in its life.

Two final comments on images and photos.

The vast majority are supplied by vendors. Camera technology has and continues to improve significantly, but please note and understand that image and sound quality does vary. If you would like vendors to provide more images please ask us and we will contact the vendor for you.

If you are at all unsure, just ask us. It is what we are here for.

Finally, finally, finally. Please note that vehicles are sold as seen and a returns policy is not applicable. This is the norm for used items acquired at auction.

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Bidder Bid amount Bid time
n***********************m £6,800.00 2023-01-10 11:40:43
m***o £6,700.00 2023-01-10 11:25:36
n***********************m £6,500.00 2023-01-09 21:10:09
m***o £6,400.00 2023-01-10 11:25:05
m***o £6,100.00 2023-01-10 11:24:38
n***********************m £5,500.00 2022-12-30 19:20:07
m***o £5,000.00 2023-01-09 19:30:05
s************e £3,500.00 2023-01-04 14:35:14
n***********************m £3,000.00 2022-12-23 19:21:07
j***********y £2,500.00 2022-12-10 16:55:41
d*************m £2,500.00 2022-12-13 14:01:17
d*************m £1,500.00 2022-12-13 13:59:19
Start auction £1,000.00 09/12/2022 12:00 AM


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