1947 Vincent-HRD 998cc Rapide Series B
Registration no. ETR 787
Frame no. R2105
Engine no. F10AB/1/106
Engine Casings: A57/A57
The outbreak of WW2 in 1939 brought production of all Series A models to a halt, and when Vincent resumed production at the war's end it was with the all-new Series B. Its rear suspension aside, the Series A Vincent-HRD had been conventional enough: tubular steel frame, girder forks, separate gearbox, etc but with the Series B Messrs Vincent and Irving effectively established the marque's reputation for the defiance of convention in the pursuit of engineering excellence. For a start there was no 'frame' as such, merely a fabricated box attached to the cylinder heads, that served as the oil tank and incorporated the headstock and the attachment point for the rear springs. The gearbox was integral with the engine, and the swinging arm pivoted directly in the engine/gearbox casings, features commonplace today but unusual 60 years ago. Only in his retention of the pre-war Brampton girder fork did Phillip Vincent appear to be lagging behind other manufacturers, almost all of which had switched to telescopics, but this apparent shortcoming would soon be addressed by the introduction of the famous 'Girdraulic' fork.
Introduced in 1946, the Vincent-HRD Series-B Rapide was immediately the fastest production motorcycle on sale anywhere, with a top speed of over 110mph. The basic design clearly had even greater potential though, which would be realised later in the form of the Black Shadow and Black Lightning models. In 1948 the Vincent range began to be up-dated to 'Series C' specification. The most significant changes made concerned the suspension, there being a revised arrangement at the rear incorporating curved lugs for the seat stays and an hydraulic damper between the spring boxes, while at the front the new models boasted Vincent's own 'Girdraulic' fork: a blade-type girder fitted with twin hydraulic dampers. These advances began to find their way onto production models during 1948 but it would be 1950 before all Vincents left the factory in Series C specification.
This Rapide was purchased in August 1998 from Mr Boyd Stokes of Teindland, Morayshire by noted motorcycle restorer James Tennant-Eyles, who on completion of its full restoration sold the Vincent to the current vendor in August 1999. Mr Tennant-Eyles' detailed account of the restoration process and all parts used is on file. The total cost was £15,530. Departures from original specification include a Norton clutch, Black Lightning brakes, a Black Shadow '150mph' speedometer and a Godet electric starter (easily removed). Since restoration the Rapide has been run-in and fine-tuned for high-speed Continental touring, covering some 1,000 miles in the process.
The accompanying old-style continuation logbook (issued 1964) lists three owners, the second of whom, Bryan Phillips, is a past president of the Vincent Owners' Club. Prior to that the Rapide is know to have belonged to Alan Lancaster, who bought it around 1956/57 (see photographs on file) and sold it to the first owner listed, Martin Roper, in 1963. Currently forming part of the Hockenheim Museum collection, the machine is described as in superb condition and offered with the aforementioned documentation, VOC dating certificate (confirming matching frame/engine numbers), copy Works Order Form, assorted correspondence, two expired MoTs and Swansea V5/2 New Keeper's Supplement.
Prospective purchasers should be aware that should an exported motorcycle come with a V5 or V5C they will have to apply to the DVLA to have the original registration number reallocated.
- The engine number is: F10AB/1/1036. Please note the '3' has been crossed out/scored through.