Two owners from new, documented by factory records as 1 of 12 built with original black frame with Chinese Red tinwork
1952 Vincent 998cc Series C Rapide
Frame no. C10241C
Engine no. F10AB/1/8341
The Vincent story is well-chronicled, deservedly so, given the firm's spectacular history lasting little more than a quarter century for it's supported by a wealth of specialist books, a stream of informative articles in the classic press, and an internationally established Owner's Club. Widely acknowledged as Britain's most exciting post-war machine Vincents have always earned the respect of hard-bitten journalists and demanding owners due to the manner in which they performed. They were also much admired, subconsciously perhaps, by an uninitiated public rarely failing to notice a Vincent, whether static, or burbling down Main Street.
Proprietor Phil Vincent, who designed a cantilever spring frame while still at Harrow School where, incidentally, Winston Churchill was also a pupil began his motorcycle venture in the late Twenties. He acquired the defunct HRD firm and name from OK Supreme, a purchase that provided the requisite tools and equipment to start production of Vincent-HRD machines, which were initially fitted with engines bought from J.A.P. or Rudge.
In 1931 Phil Irving joined the embryo firm to assist with design; it was from his drawing board there emerged Vincent's own engine in 1934, a 500cc ohv single that was a noticeable improvement over the proprietary motors. This was confidently followed two years later by the first 1000cc vee-twin, both these engines known as Series 'A'. Irving left for Velocette in 1937, but returned in 1943, promptly "tidying" each engine in anticipation of a healthy post-war market.
Vincent-HRD was never a large outfit; indeed, production totals of the highly cherished 'A' model are reputedly less than three figures. But by 1946, after an active period making munitions during WWII, they were thankfully in a position to increase the previous 2-wheel output. It is generally thought that about 10,000 examples were produced before the final closure in 1955. The firm's main post-war volume is encapsulated in the runs of 'B' and 'C' Series machines resulting in the manufacture of far more 1000cc twins than 500cc singles the majority in Vincent's traditional black & gold finish, with alloy fitments.
Through 1947/48 Vincent exported vigorously, despite being the world's most expensive motorcycle; the World's Fastest, too, after Rollie Free's Black Lightning had exceeded 150mph at Bonneville in 1947! Demand for Rapides and Shadows was consistently high, but sometimes unfulfilled due to a constant shortage of quality materials whilst industrial Britain recovered. Legend has it that about 12 Vincents in red and black livery [popularly known as "Chinese Red"] were sent to USA in the early 1950s, supposedly by way of change, and arguably as a foil against the flamboyant finish of certain Indians. Whatever the facts "Chinese Red" has a growing cult status amongst certain Vincent cognoscenti.
According to Works Records this remarkably preserved Rapide was built in Red & Black, passing through the factory's Road Test dept on 8th January 1952, before dispatch to the San Francisco branch of the Indian Sales Corporation. Sold originally by a dealer in Fresno, CA, the machine is believed to have completed less than 10,000 miles to date and, even more remarkably, has so far had but two owners. Its untouched condition coupled with the splendid patina is reflected in the ownership and mileage figure! Understandably it has not been run for some years. Some constructive deviations from spec should be noted: the Shadow speedometer for instance, a dull chrome chain-case, and partial plating of the Girdraulic forks; work that was apparently undertaken by the Vincent Agent in Fresno. Close inspection of this unique Vincent is recommended; it will prove an enjoyable experience!
- The frame number should read RC10241C. We can also note that our most recent research has identified this machine to be one of 30 finished in this rare color scheme. We have only ever seen one other.
We are also pleased to note that the upper frame member and the lower frame number are matching numbers.