1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656

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Lot 168
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656

US$ 50,000 - 60,000
£ 41,000 - 49,000
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. R2897
Engine no. F10AB/1/656
• Ex-Glen Kyle, ex-Beese Wendt championship winner
• Short-stroke, nitro-burning engine
• Maintained in 'last-raced' condition
• AMA Championship trophies included

Given their five-star status as collectible classics today, many Vincents now lead cosseted lives, but it wasn't always that way. This elongated hard-scrabble Rapide racer, for example, was purchased as a $50 junker in the late 1950s and constantly modified over the next 20 years to deliver five national hillclimb championships, making it one of the most successful Vincent racers ever.

AMA Class A Professional Hillclimbing is in essence a vertical drag race, run on impossibly steep slopes littered with rocks, ruts, roots and jumps, the more the better. This bike's original builder/rider Glen Kyle figured that a Vincent V-twin, then the world's fastest motorcycle, would make a great uphill missile. But first some engine work was needed as Class A rules set maximum displacement for overhead-valve engines at 750cc. Kyle debored and destroked the 1000cc Vincent to meet requirements, then fitted BSA pistons, an Alpha crankpin, a Joe Hunt magneto, Black Lightning camshafts and dual 1¼" Dell Orto carburetors inhaling a potent witch's brew of 70% nitromethane fuel. Because there was no time for shifting gears during the short, violent climbs, Kyle ran the transmission as a one-speed and utilized the remaining empty gearbox space to hold engine oil.

In handwritten notes that accompany this sale, Kyle says, "It was a good, strong engine, and it served me well." Which is something of an understatement as the nitro-burning short-stroke Vincent delivered three AMA Class A Championships in 1963, 1965 and 1966 with Kyle in the saddle.

Cycle magazine dropped in on Freemansburg, Pennsylvania hillclimb in 1966 for a feature story, noting that Kyle was the man to beat. "It's time for Number 1, Glen Kyle on his big Vincent. Kyle wears a black sweatshirt with his name emblazoned on it and is very thorough," noted the author as Kyle went through his first-run starting routine. "Picking the exact course he wants, he slowly remolds the (starting line) dirt to his liking. Someone mutters, 'That guy is the most particular rider I ever saw!'" Despite his practiced technique, Kyle did not have fast time as the final round began; in fact as he went to the start area for his second try he was 1.5 sec. behind the leader's 11.89-sec. pass.

Picking up Cycle's narrative: "It was Glen Kyle's turn again. The same painstaking currying of the earth and fidgeting for the groove, and finally ready. The Vincent whipped up the hill like a chain-bellied snake. The jump didn't even seem to be there. The announcer started jumping around and announced a new leading time of 11.24 sec." Quick enough for the win that day.

Freemansburg would be one of Kyle's last races on the Vincent. In 1967 he sold the bike to up-and-comer Malcolm 'Beese' Wendt, already a Class B champ looking to move into the Pro division. With coaching from Kyle, Wendt came to terms with the Vincent's hard-hitting power, winning the Canadian Class A title in 1968 and the AMA crown in 1969, giving the Vincent five national championships in two countries. Wendt was also the top Pro hillclimber in AMA District 6 for eight years running on the Vincent.

During his ownership, suspension ranged from rigid at both ends to the Ceriani forks and dual Kayaba gas shocks seen here in its last-raced form, with the swingarm growing in length over the years. Proper Venolia racing pistons replaced the repurposed BSA slugs, and Chrysler Hemi intake valves were machined to fit the stock valve guides, both changes helping to cope with the 98% nitro mix Wendt sometimes ran. He eventually incorporated three Black Lightning primary clutch friction plates, and dropped the hammer via a left-side foot lever, in order to keep both hands tightly on the handlebars during the all-important launch up the hill.

Cycle News was on hand to record one of Wendt's last wins on the Vincent at Freemansburg in 1979, by which time seeing a Vincent at any venue was becoming a rare happenstance. "The best ride of the day, by far, belonged to two-time national champ Beese Wendt," CN wrote. "Beese rode his Vincent V-twin flawlessly over the 500-ft. three-breaker Freemansburg cliff for an 8.55-sec. 750cc Pro winning climb. The shattering bellow of the 750cc fuel V-twin wearing megaphone exhausts announced its authority to the crowd, leaving the less-knowledgeable wondering, 'What the hell is a Vincent?'".

In this hillclimber's case it's one of longest-running, most-successful Vincent competition machines, preserved in its as-raced condition, a true piece of American motorcycle history. An extensive documents file accompanies the motorcycle, as does the traction-grabbing chain 'paddle' for the rear wheel and eight of the Vincent's championship trophies.

Footnotes

  • Offered on Bill of Sale. As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
Contacts
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
1947 Vincent-HRD 750cc Rapide Series-B Hill Climb Racing Motorcycle Frame no. R2897 Engine no. F10AB/1/656
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