It’s a $341,700 homecoming for famed British bike

Philip Vincent on the 1938 Rapide, with Ray Pett standing | H&H Classics photos
Philip Vincent on the 1938 Rapide, with Ray Pett standing | H&H Classics photos

One of Britain’s “Holy Grail” motorcycles has returned home sold for
£275,000 ($341,700) at H&H Classic auction this week at Donington. The 1938 Vincent-HRD Series-A Rapide was built by Ted Hampshire and at one time was owned by Alan de Cadenet.

The bike, one of only 78 produced between 1936 and 1939, was discovered recently in a “job-lot” collection in Japan. Only 50 of the Series-A Rapides are known to still exist, H&H Classics reported.

'Plumbers nightmare' is one of only 50 still surviving
‘Plumbers nightmare’ is one of only 50 still surviving

Nicknamed the “plumbers nightmare” because of all of its external oil pipes, the Series-A Rapide produced 45 horsepower at 5,500 rpm from a 998 cc V-twin engine and was capable of speeds as fast as 100 mph.

“When the Series ‘A’ HRD was announced to the press in October 1936, it caused a sensation by being the fastest production vehicle available for sale to the public at the time,” H&H Classics said.

“The decision to fit two of the well-proven HRD Meteor cylinders onto a common crankcase was an inspiration which formed the basis for the renowned series of ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Vincent twins that followed and remained in production until 1955.

“All of these models are highly sought after of course but none are as rare as the Series ’A’ twins, the last of which were made in 1939.”
“The Series-A Rapide is seen as gold dust,” Mark Bryan, head of the H&H Classics motorcycle department, said in a news release.

“Vincent was a small manufacturer in competition with Brough, but Vincent, unlike Brough, built their own engines. These bikes are incredibly collectable and in value they are closing in on the Brough.”

1934 Brough Superior
1934 Brough Superior

At the same sale, a 1934 Brought Superior Alpine, owned by the consignor for the past 50 years, sold for £131,560 (nearly $164,000).

The Series-A Rapide had been stored for several years and is a survivor with not only matching numbers for its frame and engine but even the gearbox, oil pump and magneto numbers match the original works order sheet. According to the Vincent HRD Owner’s Club, it is the only Series-A ever photographed with Phil Vincent on the seat.

The bike was found in 1988 by Brian Verrall and was rebuilt by Vincent enthusiast and former Series-A Meteor owner Bill Cakebread. He sold it back to Verrall in 1993. At some point it was sold to a collector in Japan, but was rediscovered yet again and consigned to the H&H Classics auction.

“The strength of the vintage motorcycle market has been growing year on year, and does not seem to have been hindered by the current economic slowdown,” Bryan added.

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