If you love classic bikes, but are also inclined to bristle when told by old-timers that "£10 was a lot of money in those days", perhaps you should avoid reading on. Because a £10 note plus an Amal TT carburettor of indeterminate value was all it took for the late Harry Lloyd to become the lawful owner of what is now considered to be one of the most covetable of all British motorcycles: a Vincent-HRD Series-A Rapide.

Admittedly Lloyd did the deal in 1959 when, according to one of the internet's fascinating 'historic inflation calculators,' a tenner was the equivalent of £204.33 today. So was it a lot of money? That's probably a matter of circumstance. But a quarter of a million in 2015 certainly is – and that's roughly what the Rapide is likely to fetch when it comes under the hammer at Bonhams annual spring motorcycle sale in Stafford.

The story that will be passed on with it is a quintessential tale of eleventh-hour rescue following the decision by the machine's previous owner to junk the bike after wrecking the gearbox and, somehow, managing to lose its wheels – and one or two other key components.

When word reached Lloyd that the motorcycle was languishing in a Liverpool garden earmarked for scrap, he quickly stepped in and added it to his existing pair of Vincents – a Meteor and a Comet – cannibalizing bits from both to expedite getting the Rapide back on the road. After that, he attached a sidecar and covered 20,000 miles prior to 1968 (with the occasional interlude for repairs) before deciding to strip the Rapide down for a comprehensive rebuild.

But, as is so often the case, life got in the way and Lloyd's beloved Vincent spent the next dozen years laid up in a rented lock-up – which was unexpectedly cleared by council workers whom he interrupted just as they were preparing to throw the bike into a skip.

The Rapide spent a further 17 years in the safer haven of Lloyd's spare bedroom before being entrusted to marque specialist Glyn Johnson of the Vincent Workshop who, in 2013, finally completed a meticulous restoration of this rare thoroughbred, which is one of only 60 Series A examples thought to have survived and the penultimate to have been produced.

There's a sadness to the story, however, because Lloyd died in 2008 before ever seeing his two-wheeled companion of 50 years emerge into the sunlight, resplendent in freshly-
"He interrupted council workers just as they were preparing to throw the bike into a skip"
applied stove enamel paint, its powertrain rebuilt and improved, its ancillaries replaced
or meticulously restored and with every nut,bolt, screw and washer upgraded with stainless steel substitutes, finished to the appearance of the originals.

Now, still carrying the registration mark it was issued with in 1939, the mighty, 1,000cc v-twin with 110 mph potential is set to be among the stars of the Stafford sale. It's described by Ben Walker, International Director of Bonhams motorcycle department, as, quite simply, "One of the Holy Grails of the motorcycle world."
And wouldn't you like to think that in 50 years time, whoever buys it might just say to an awe-struck grandchild: "I paid £250,000 for it back in 2015. And that was a lot of money in those days, I can tell you ..."

Related auctions