1949 Vincent 'Red Rapide'
Lot 292
1949 Vincent 998cc 'Red' Rapide Frame no. RC4342 Engine no. F10AB/1/2703
£50,000 - 70,000
US$ 84,000 - 120,000
Lot Details
1949 Vincent 998cc 'Red' Rapide
Registration no. UAS 721
Frame no. RC4342
Engine no. F10AB/1/2703
Rear Frame no. RC4603
Crankcase mating no. Y76

In the USA, Vincents were distributed by the Indian Sales Corporation, thereby giving the American manufacturer's dealers an overhead-valve sports model to compete with Harley-Davidson's 'Knucklehead'. To cater for local tastes, some batches of the Rapide touring model were delivered to the USA finished in red, the total being estimated at 107 machines. The Series-C Rapide offered here, with engine number 'F10AB/1/2703', is one of the early examples. The rear frame member ('RC4603') is original and that number is recorded on the machine's UK V5C registration document, while the upper frame member ('RC4342') left the factory in April 1950 in a Rapide bound for King's of Oxford. Originally the Rapide would have had the touring model's valanced, painted steel front mudguard matching the rear one, and Amal Type 276 carburettors rather than the Mk2 Concentrics currently fitted. Its accompanying copy Works Order Form records that the Rapide was destined for shipment to the Indian Sales Corporation and notes a change of colour scheme from the standard black/gold to red/gold.

The machine was purchased in 2002 from Mr Roger Chafen of St Joseph, Missouri (proprietor of Chafen Body Works Inc) who had restored it in 1998. Photographs on file show the cycle parts being stripped of their black paint, revealing the original red finish beneath; indeed, it was not unknown for American dealers to repaint bikes in black prior to delivery, which may have been the fate of this example. Mr Chafen sourced components from recognised specialists including Vin-Parts, Ron Kemp Engineering and the VOC Spares Company, there being numerous bills on file totalling many thousands of pounds testifying to the fact that this was a 'no expense spared' restoration. The engine was rebuilt by Charley Taylor of Connecticut.

Since acquisition the Rapide has formed part of the owner's significant private collection and been kept in heated storage, seeing only occasional use. Described as in generally excellent condition, 'running extremely well', this rare post-war Vincent variant is offered with the aforementioned documentation, VOC Certificate of Authenticity, two expired MoT certificates (most recent May 2006), current road fund licence and UK V5C registration documents.
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Contacts
  1. Ben Walker
    Specialist - Motorcycles
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 8963 2819
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2801
  2. James Stensel
    Specialist - Motorcycles
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 8963 2818
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2801