1952 Vincent 499cc Comet
Frame no. C/1/11072/C
Engine no. F5AP/2A/9172
The single-cylinder Comet 500 is sometimes jokingly referred to as "half a Vincent," when in fact it was single that came first, and a pairing up of two individual cylinders that lead to creation of the famous Vincent V-twin.
The Vincent-HRD brand originated in 1928 when Philip C. Vincent acquired the name, jigs, tools and patterns of the recently liquidated HRD Company. Vincent moved production from Wolverhampton to Stevenage and set about putting his motorcycle design ideas into practice, commencing with an innovative sprung frame that would remain a feature of Vincent motorcycles until production ceased in 1955. Like others, Vincent relied on proprietary engines until increasing dissatisfaction with suppliers led to the creation of Vincent's own motor in 1934. An overhead-valve 500cc single, this all-new power unit was designed jointly by Vincent and Chief Engineer Phil Irving who, as legend has it, later came up with the idea of a 1000cc V-twin after seeing two drawings of the single superimposed on one another. By producing a V-twin in this fashion, many of the existing single-cylinder components could be utilized, thus reducing costs, an important factor for the fledgling concern.
Vincent and Irving brought fresh thinking to the design of what would become known as the Series-A motor, opting for a relatively short stroke of 90mm coupled to an 84mm bore, a high-set camshaft and two guides for each valve with the rocker arm engaging between them; the sum of all these features resulting in a compact engine with considerable scope for tuning. The names Comet and Meteor were chosen for the sports and touring versions respectively of the stylish new Vincent-HRD.
Production was stopped for WWII, then restarted soon after with the short-lived Series-B Comets, which soon gave way to the successful Series-C singles, built from 1948 to '54. The Series-C Comet on offer here is a 1952 model that is largely unrestored, though the paint apparently was treated to a respray at some point. Overall it gives every indication of being a ridden, well-burnished example with 47,500 miles on the clock but showing no evidence of major trauma.
- Please note that the correct frame number for this bike is RC111072C, and the engine number is F5AB2A9172.