One owner since 1966
1955 Vincent 998cc Series-D Rapide
Registration no. RGO 251
Frame no. RD12658
Engine no. F10AB/2/10758
The Vincent v-twin had been synonymous with design innovation, engineering excellence, and superlative high performance since the Series A's arrival in 1937. 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 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 7" 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 Sadly though, the Shadow's magnificent 5"-diameter Smiths speedometer had been replaced by a standard 3" unit.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 innovative new models with suspicion, as is so often the case. 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-bike. The firm lost money on every machine made and when production ceased in December 1955 only 460 Series D v-twins had been built.
First registered in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, this matching-numbers Series-D Rapide was sold two months later to a new owner in Totnes and has remained in Devon ever since. The current owner acquired the Vincent in 1966. Last taxed for the road in 1991 and dry stored since then, 'RGO 251' comes complete with an Avon fairing, original tank cover and its original logbook. The machine is offered for sympathetic restoration and sold strictly as viewed.