Imagine my surprise when 24 hours later I came across the bike up for auction on Ebay USA. It's listed as a 1931 James V Twin currently residing in Cognac, France and associated in some way with Tony Smith Racing. The bike itself comes with a pre-war class racing pedigree.
It is clear that not all the bits on this bike are pre-war or anywhere close to 1931. I did a few searches and was unable to find anything on a V-twin James. I had always associated James with lightweights and the engine reminded more of a JAP despite the advertisement to the contrary. I will admit that I am no expert. The gearbox is definitely a Laydown type with the kickstart blanked off. The frame has a double downtube and the centertube appears cut. Affixed to the centertube lug is a bolted rear section reminiscent of rigid ones bolted onto Triumph bobbers. It looks like a Garden Gate Frame save the front downtubes which could have been modified. Top the whole thing off with conical hubs and an early Model 7 tank and you have one hell of a bike especially with the girder forks.
The "nortoness" of this bike might be explained if the Tony Smith Racing associated with the advertisement is the same Tony Smith that campaigned a Gus Kuhn Norton Commando at the 1970 Bol d'Or. Tony Smith was an engineer and works rider for BSA in the sixties as well as winner of the production class at Brands Hatch in 1974 aboard a Gus Kuhn Commando. The possible "French Connection" is that Tony Smith ran a motorcycle racing school in France during the 70's. He was also a competitive TT rider.
All I know is that if I had the cash I definitely would buy it. It's a special that mixes modern and vintage in a seamless and functional manner. It's a rider which makes the bike that much more appealing to me. I also love the backround of the photos. The Cognac region is gorgeous. If I really had the money, I'd buy the bike and it's garage if you know what I mean!