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The 1976 Norton Commando was the most up-to-date version of the bike yet, but still couldn't overcome the Japanese competition. See more motorcycle pictures.

1976 Norton Commando

The 1976 Norton Commando motorcycle was a last-ditch effort to salvage a once-brilliant British motorcycle formula.

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Norton's Commando series bowed in 1968 to great fanfare, but by the mid-1970s it had grown long in the tooth.

Originally offered with a 750-cc twin, it was decided that a power boost was in order. The engine itself was going on 30 years old, but it was a solid design, and Norton increased displacement to 850 cc in what would turn out to be its final incarnation.

Along with the larger engine came a front disc brake, joined later by a rear disc. In addition, U.S.-spec left-side shift was adopted, the dual seat was now hinged for convenience, and the speedometer and tachometer found themselves joined by a warning-light console.

Despite these efforts, Norton found itself deeper and deeper in the financial muck. Merged with AJS and Matchless back in the 1960s, Norton was folded in with BSA and Triumph in the 1970s. BSA dropped out after 1973, leaving Triumph and Norton to soldier on alone. They didn't march very far.

Though Triumph struggled along on its own for a few years afterward, Norton ceased production in 1977. However, both marques made cameo appearances during the 1980s, Norton fielding a Wankel-powered model that was produced in small numbers.

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The 1976 Norton Commando was a relatively lightweight motorcycle, which benefited performance.

1976 Norton Commando Pictures

The 1976 Norton Commando came equipped with disc brakes and an electric starter, which made it more attractive to American consumers.

The speedometer and tachometer were augmented by a quartet of warning lights. The switch for the new electronic ignition is in the center.

By 1976, the venerable Norton overhead-valve twin was old-tech, but still made good power.

The left-side shift was a relatively new adoption for the Commando in 1976.

The electric starter was appealing to any rider who enjoyed convenience.

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