Eric Patterson is now a world champion with his name firmly in the FIM speed record books, and unlike some challengers he didn’t look for an easy record and then build a machine to go for it. Eric’s mean machine is a progression from the 750cc JAP/Norton special (tested TCM November 2001) that he concocted with the help of Dave Degens – well known as the originator and rider of Dresda endurance racers.
Mention of JAP motors might give you a mental image of an oily and rattly old vintage job, but the Tottenham company didn’t stop making motors just because they’d become unfashionable for road bikes. Lying under his bench (well he is a successful autojumble organiser), Eric had an 1100cc V-twin JAP that had started life in a racing car, circa 1952. It was the pukka job, with magnesium alloy casings, and an aluminium alloy top end. The frame of Eric’s first special had needed to be stretched to accommodate its engine – which made its
Featherbed rather too king-sized for my five foot nine – but this time Dave simply spread the lower frame rails so that the engine could go a little lower and further forward. From the outset the Norton/JAP was intended to be road-legal(ish), but the ominous wrist cord, that kills the engine if rider and bike part company, shows that it is also a serious competition machine.