Vincent is a British motorcycle manufacturer that was in business from 1928 through 1955. The brand imported engines from other manufacturers under Vincent’s specifications. They’re credited with the design specs for their single-cylinder 500 cc and v-twin 1,000 cc versions. Vincent motorcycles are now collectible vintage bikes that pop up occasionally at an auction. The company ceased production in 1955. If you’re a vintage motorcycle buff, here are the five best Vincent Motorcycles of all time.
5. 1951 Vincent Black Lightning
The 1951 Black Lighting is an iconic machine that is now a valuable piece in the collectible’s market. An example of this vintage bike was offered at Bonham’s in Las Vegas valued at $929,000. This is in unrestored condition. That is the price that the bike sold for at the January auction and it currently stands as the record highest for a single motorcycle. This example is one of just 30 built by Vincent motorcycles. It’s a rare bike that has a significant history. It was a special order motorcycle made in England. The bike was imported by its new owner to Australia. After arrival, it was used by racer Jack Ehret to set Australia’s land speed record in the 1950s. The unique history of this bike contributes to its inherent value in the vintage collectibles category.
4. 1946 Vincent Rapide Series B
The Vincent Rapide was the result of more than a decade of engineering and design tweaks of the original Rapide that was offered in 1936. It featured a 499cc single-cylinder engine that was tweaked by Vincent to evolve into a fast V-twin. He discovered that doubling to cylinder count and displacement was the key to the development of the new at the time, 998 cc V-twin that generated 45 horsepower with a top speed of 110 mph. This was just the ticket for racers back in the day, but the war interfered with further production so the model was ceased until 1946 when it resumed. The new Series B Rapide was introduced with a few changes in the V-angle and construction, but with the same displacement, bore, and stroke. The series B was the successor of the super fast Series A bikes and production of this model continued through 1950 when it was replaced by the Series C.
3. 1949 Vincent HRD 500cc Series B Meteor
This is a model that was recently auctioned at Bonham’s for just under USD 40,000 as a vintage collectible bike. It’s a rare find to discover an example of this post-war single-cylinder model with matching frame and engine numbers. This particular bike was restored in 2016. The HRD motorcycle has a unique history in the history of Vincent motorcycles. It was first introduced in 1928 after Vincent acquired the HRD company. It was valued for its innovative sprung frame that became a hallmark feature of Vincent brand motorcycles from this time forward. It continued to be a Vincent feature until 1955 when the brand ceased production of motorcycles. This is one of the rarest post-war Vincent bikes known. It is currently in fully operational condition, after being discovered as a barn find. The primary drive had to be rebuilt with an overhaul of the magneto, all professionally restored to original condition with electrical system upgrades made. Powder coating of the parts and a cellulose spray for the fuel tank help maintain its authenticity. The original control levers are still present with a re-chrome for aesthetics.
2. 1950 Vincent Comet
The 1950 Vincent Comet features an air-cooled 499cc OHV single-cylinder engine. This is another rare and valuable Vincent vintage collectible bike. The camshaft of the bike featured a high set in the crankcase with an aluminum alloy cylinder head and block and a cast-iron cylinder liner. The unique valve arrangement with two valve guides on each valve and forked rocker arms give it a compression ratio of 7.3:1. The valves had a straighter path with more lateral support than average. It was equipped with a Burman BAP 4-speed gearbox. The significance of this model historically is in the differentiated valve design. It was made for heavy endurance under extreme racing conditions with a top speed of 90 mph.
1. 1952 Vincent Series C Rapide
A 1952 Vincent Series C Rapide was offered for auction by Bonham’s. This unique example features a frame number RC/11265 with a rear frame number RC/1/6302, the engine number F10/AB/1/268, and crankcase mating number C70. Interestingly, the numbers on the bike do not match which suggests that this was a project bike that was pieced together from a variety of models. It still fetched an auction price of more than $23,000 as a vintage collectible. After research, it was discovered that the mainframe was from a Series C Rapide with a history. The bike was dispatched to Kempster in London in 1952. The rear frame from Series C Comet was from Conway Motors in West London and the engine from a Series-B Rapide at Huxham’s in Bournemouth from 1948. This was a restoration project that was kept on the back burner for over 30 years and stored in a dry location. the bike is in a state of complete condition with all necessary parts, but still in need of full restoration. It is technically classified as a Series C Rapide from the early 1950s era because the majority of its parts are from that model and approximate year. A Series C Rapide in original condition, however, would be far more valuable in the collectibles market.
Vincent motorcycles occupy a significant position in the history and current collectibles market of the motorcycle industry. These British-made bikes provided the public with a convenient and affordable form of transportation from the early 1920s through the middle part of the 1950s era.