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 Norton - 588 Rotary Interpol
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Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 588
Model : Rotary Interpol
Production : 1988 - 1990
Category : (R) Street Bike


Commander 588 Touring – 1988

Second generation

The first Norton with a rotary engine to go into limited production was the air-cooled Classic. A batch of 100 were built in 1987 and despite a high price (£ 6,000) all were sold within a few weeks of the announcement that they were to be released to the public. These were the first Nortons of any type to be sold since the collapse of the old Norton-Villiers-Triumph conglomerate some ten years earlier and the enthusiastic British biking public were only too ready to support this new venture.

Cooling problems

Unfortunately, despite the many years of development there were problems – mainly with the cooling. The obvious way to cure this was to abandon air-cooling and to switch to water – which would have the added benefit of making the engines quieter. Consequently Norton boss at the time Phillipe Le Roux, a South African born financier, ordered the director of engineering, David Garside, to press ahead with the development of a new water-cooled engine.

Police testers

The prototype models were tested by the British police. Using the machines virtually 24 hours a day enormous mileages were covered in the space of a few weeks – with the police reporting back directly to the factory. Unlike the Classis the new bike, named the Commander, was designed with an integral enclosure with included a fairing, windscreen and panniers. For it was to be a BMW-style ‘super tourer’ rather and a stark, sports bike. The civilian version of the Commander was first shown in London in May 1988 but did not go on sale until 1990. Since then it has been in limited production but has not proved a ‘best seller’.


Engine: twin rotor, water-cooled Wankel rotary (nominal capacity 588cc), ignition CDI

Fuel system: two carburettors (SU 38 mm)

Power rating: 85 hp / 9,000 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed gearbox (separate) with duplex chain primary drive, enclosed chain secondary drive with oil-bath

Suspension: telescopic front forks, pivoted fork rear suspension with central unit

Chassis: pressed-steel monocoque frame

Brakes: twin 265mm discs (front), single 265mm disc (rear)

Wheels: 18inch 100/90V (front), 18inch 110/90V (rear)

Weight: 235 kg

Maximum speed: 130 mph/210 kmh

Built as a super tourer, the Norton Commander is powered by a water-cooled twin rotor Wankel engine. Here is the Police version fitted with radio equipment.

Le fichier Moto Passion réalisé par François-Marie Dumas réunit près de deux mille photos accompagnées d'un historique très complet des machines présentées.
Il sera progressivement mis à jour ici et toute information complémentaire est la bienvenue sur info@moto-collection.org.

Cette documentation unique, qui constitue sans doute l'encyclopédie la plus exhaustive jamais écrite sur l'histoire de la moto, a été réalisée avec l'assistance de nombreux spécialistes dont principalement Didier Ganneau, Christophe Gaime, Mick Woollett, Jean Goyard, Bernard Salvat, Christian Rey, Yves Campion, Helmut Krackowizer, Michael Dregni, Michel Montange, etc. que je remercie ici.

Disponible sur demande :
- Les fiches originales sur papier
- Les photos et archives signées de mon nom en haute définition ou les documents originaux.
Me contacter sur info@moto-collection.org pour les conditions et droits d'utilisation.