Vincent HRD introduced introduced the Rapide in the Summer of 1936. Famous for its big ‘singles’ Vincent gave the new model an equally new 50-degree, 998 cc, V-twin making 45 hp. Rather than a conventional frame, the Rapide utilized a fabricated box, which attached to the cylinder heads as well as the rear springs.
This also served as the oil tank. Only about 80 were produced before the Second World War interrupted production, but the company returned in 1946 with a new variant, the Series B. Capable of 110 mph, it was, at the time, the world’s fastest motorbike.
One interesting feature of the Rapide was its cantilever rear suspension, which pre-empted Yamaha’s ‘Monoshock’ by more than two decades. Series D production ended in 1955.
As well as its superb condition, this bike has another major factor in its favour; the stewardship of its owners. The present keeper has owned the bike for the past 11 years. It has been stored in a heated garage and regularly turned over.
He was also careful to source this matching numbers machine from an equally conscientious Vincent collector (and club member). On this owner’s watch, the bike was stripped down and overhauled, its engine being rebuilt by Vincent specialist Ray Elger.
Despite the lavish care obviously given to the bike, there is little paperwork beyond its V5.
This is a stunning looking bike and hard to fault. The black paintwork retains a glorious shine and the gold pin-striping sets it off so well and complement the Vincent transfers. Perhaps the only real criticism would be that, despite what the tank script says, this isn’t a White Shadow- still, it’s very nicely applied.
Elsewhere on the bike, the stove enamelling on outer cases, cylinder heads and barrels was reapplied by the previous owner and is in excellent condition. As you might guess by looking at it, the seat is new.
All this deep black sets off the chrome and polished metal parts nicely; they shine out even more. The chrome shows no discolouration and the steel parts retain a muted lustre.
When you look closer into the mechanical components of the machine, its a great confidence boost to see how clean the details are - no grime or stains in nooks and crevices - how clean bolts or spokes are. Hoses and leads too are in excellent health. The VIncent stands up to the closest inspection.
As already mentioned, the bike has been rebuilt; actually to Black Shadow specifications - with some very tasty tweaks. All aspects of the mechanicals were gone through with the engine benefiting from new valves, guides, springs, pistons, and the cylinder head ported. The carburettors are Amal Premier Monobloc, and the exhaust is stainless steel.
The 12volt electrics were rewired on a new loom, and the system powered by a 150watt Fiat dynamo, professionally converted. All eccentrics, and fork bushes were replaced and the Rapide’s brakes upgraded with Black Shadow ribbed drums and Black Lightning plates. All brake cables are new.
The machine has covered negligible miles since the rebuild.
Beautifully built, Vincent V-twins remain stunning to look at and exhilarating to ride. And, of course, they are all very collectable. The careful ownership and sympathetic refurbishment and upgrading of this motorbike must put it high on any enthusiast’s wish list.
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