1938 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-A Rapide Registration no. CUP 660 Frame no. DV1515 (see text) Engine no. V1038
Rear frame no. DV1515
Approx 78 built Conway Motors rebuild Staggering performance in period
The outbreak of WW2 in 1939 brought production of all Vincent-HRD Series-A models to a halt, and when the company resumed production in 1946, it was with the all-new Series-B. By July '39 when the last Series-A twin was built, the model had been in production for a little over 30 months, and the fact that so few were made has in no small part contributed to this legendary model's mythic status. Expert opinion differs with regard to the exact number produced but most authorities favour a total in the high 70s. By way of comparison, production of the rival Brough Superior SS100 ran into the hundreds.
The prototype Series-A Rapide was proudly displayed on Vincent's stand at the 1936 Motor Cycle Show at Olympia but only a handful were sold in 1937, the first full year of production, as the motorcycling public remained sceptical of the upstart firm's performance claims. This scepticism was soon dispelled by the exploits of the works Series-A racers piloted by Manliffe Barrington and 'Ginger' Wood, the latter shattering the Donington Park lap record in 1938 and returning a staggering standing quarter-mile time of 11.75 seconds at the Gatwick sprint. On the road the Series-A Rapide fulfilled all of its maker's expectations, proving capable of reaching 110mph, comfortably faster then the rival JAP-powered SS100. Around 50 Series-A Vincent v-twins survive worldwide today, and for one to be offered for sale is an event of exceptional importance.
First registered on 22nd March 1938 to one D McCaughern of Blaydon, County Durham, this ultra-rare Vincent Series-A twin was acquired by the current vendor, an American-born enthusiast and one-time owner of several Vincents, in 1968/69. While in Japan he had purchased a Nikon FTN camera on behalf of a friend, Christopher Hayes, who paid for it with some Vincent parts (see letter on file). What the vendor got was an engine, a Burman gearbox and a collection of other parts, and over the next half-a-dozen years he gradually acquired the missing components. With most of the required parts obtained, the Vincent's restoration was entrusted to an engineer friend, Frank Dolman. It was Frank who sourced the replica frame sometime in the mid-1980s (see letter on file) having failed to persuade the owner of the original frame for 'V1038' to sell it.
The replica frame was stamped to match the genuine rear frame, 'DV1515', which left the factory fitted with engine number 'V1020' (see copy Works Order Form on file). However, the rebuild had still not been completed some 35 years after it should have started. So in 2011 the Rapide was despatched to renowned marque specialists Conway Motors, who finished the rebuild in April 2015. Now in his mid-seventies, the vendor finds the Series-A too heavy for him and has bought a lighter classic to enjoy. He has not ridden the Vincent, which has covered only 26 shakedown miles since completion. Accompanying documentation consists of the aforementioned WOF and correspondence, a copy of the original registration particulars, Conway Motors invoices, current MoT and a V5C document.