1955 Vincent 998cc Black Prince
Registration no. RLX 121
Frame no. RD128608/F
Engine no. F10/AB/2/10914
Rear frame no. RD12924B
Crankcase mating no. 16V
Ever 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', though 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. The enclosed Rapide and Black Shadow were known as Black Knight and Black Prince respectively. Other Series-D innovations included a new frame and rear suspension, a user-friendly centre stand, plus many improvements to the peerless v-twin engine. When production ceased in December 1955, around 460 Series-D v-twins had been built, some 200 of which were enclosed models.
The immediately preceding owner purchased this Black Prince in January 1965, the machine at that time being in a dismantled state and minus its engine and gearbox (see letter and receipt on file). Stored in boxes, it was still in this state when offered for sale at Bonhams' Stafford auction in October 2004 (Lot 424) where it was purchased by the current vendor. 'RLX 121'' was supplied new via Conway Motors of Shepherd's Bush, West London and comes with its original logbook listing only five private owners including Peter Jolly, the seller in 2004. The Black Knight (Rapide) engine (number 'F10/AB/2/10914') from the owner's Egli-Vincent (Lot 210 in this sale) was transferred to the Black Prince, the restoration of which was duly completed in 2006, since when only 24 shakedown miles have been covered. Upgrades include Pazon twin-plug ignition and an electric starter. Unused for the last eight years, 'RLX 121' will require re-commissioning and the customary safety checks before returning to the road. Offered without reserve, the machine comes with the aforementioned logbook, expired MoT (2007) and V5C registration document. It should be noted that the V5C has not been updated with the current engine's number.
- The Upper Frame number is RD12860B/F.