The sole factory prototype
1955 Vincent 499cc Victor Series D
Registration no. MNR 965
Frame no. RD 12538
Engine no. F5AB/3A/10638
Since the Series A's arrival in 1937, the Vincent v-twin had been synonymous with design innovation, engineering excellence, and superlative high performance. So in September 1955 when it was revealed that production of the Stevenage-built machines would cease, the news stunned the motorcycling world. It had been decided that the firm's future lay in more profitable lines of manufacture, and just 100 more of the fabulous v-twins would be completed. By the time its demise was announced, Vincent's final twin - the Series D - had been in production for just six months.
It had been Philip Vincent's belief that provision of ample weather protection combined with enclosure of engine and gearbox, would make the Vincent Series D the ultimate 'gentleman's motorcycle' and to reflect this change of emphasis the enclosed Rapide and Black Shadow were known as Black Knight and Black Prince respectively. In actuality, delayed delivery of the glassfibre panels - plus continuing demand for traditionally styled models - resulted in over half the production leaving the Stevenage factory in un-enclosed form.
Other Series-D innovations included a new frame and rear suspension - a steel tube replaced the original fabricated upper member/oil tank while the paired spring boxes gave way to a single hydraulic coil-spring/damper unit offering a generous seven inches of suspension travel. In place of the integral oil reservoir there was a separate tank beneath the seat. The user-friendly hand-operated centre stand was a welcome addition, and there were many improvements to the peerless v-twin engine including coil ignition for easier starting and Amal Monobloc carburettors. Sadly though, the Shadow's magnificent 5"-diameter Smiths speedometer had been replaced by a standard 3" unit.
Notwithstanding the fact that, as far as Philip Vincent was concerned, the Series D was his finest design, the motorcycle-buying public greeted the innovatory new models with suspicion, as is so often the case. The appeal of the Vincent, and the Black Shadow in particular, lay in its ability to out-perform just about every other vehicle on the road, and in the early post-war years there was nothing to compare with it. This was a time when the average family saloon was barely capable of reaching 70mph, and not until the advent of Jaguar's XK120 was there a production sportscar that could live with the thundering v-twins from Stevenage. Its creator's vision of the Series D as a two-wheeled Grand Routier just did not conform to the public's perception of the Vincent as the ultimate sports roadster. The firm lost money on every machine made, and when production ceased in December 1955 only 460 Series D v-twins had been built.
In addition to the 460 twins, Vincent produced a solitary example of the Series D Comet single in enclosed configuration: the Victor. Offered here, this unique motorcycle comes with its original logbook recording the date of first registration as 28th November 1955 and the first owner as Ross Motors Ltd of Hinckley, Leicestershire. On 21st December 1955 the Victor was sold to its first private owner, Harold Blackwell of Southsea, Hampshire and on 26th January 1957 passed to the only other owner listed: a Brian Terry of Barnes, Southwest London. The machine was purchased by its recently deceased owner - an enthusiastic Vincent collector - from Comerford's of Thames Ditton, Surrey on 23rd September 1961 (purchase receipt on file). A fascinating piece of Vincent history, 'MNR 965' is offered with the aforementioned documentation; VOC Certificate of Authenticity; assorted correspondence and photographs; a large quantity of bills; expired MoT (1970) and old/current Swansea V5/V5C documents.