1950 Vincent Red Comet


Vincent made the single cylinder Comet from 1935 until 1955. Not as big and dominant in the world of Motorcycling as its 1000cc brother, the 500cc Comet single is nothing to kick to the side. Like the bigger twin there were options on performance. The road going Comet, the Sport Comet, the TT and the Comet Special. The ultimate, and rarest was one of 31 “breathed on” from the factory, Grey Flash. This 1950 Vincent Red Comet is on the track now, but started life as a bike for the road.

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From the seller

1950 Vincent Comet racer. This bike is named “The Red Rocket”. This bike was purchased from a road race museum two years ago. It has been entrusted to us at TT Cycles to handle the sale. The bike is bump start, but we have fitted a kick lever to it just to get her started. The photo of the bike in our shop shows it with the fairing removed. The fairing and rear stand are included. The bike has quite a history. It has been run at Isle of Man and Bonneville. It has been to the Vincent Owners Group Meet over in the UK. The bike was built by Al Mark and the following is an excerpt from an interview with Al about this bike.

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“Meanwhile, Al was wheeling around Willow Springs on quite different machines, including another famous single, a Manx Norton. The “Red Rocket” 498cc single cylinder Vincent Comet seen here, sadly enough passed into Al’s possession as a gift from a dying friend. In stock non-race Comet form, the bike had had been sitting outside at prey to the elements for 27 years, and Al was determined to revive it, spending two years and then some, brining the little Vincent back to speed. He added his own personal interpretation, including the red paint job and bolted on the Manx Norton replica Peel Dolphin Mark II fiberglass fairing which gave a 6 mph advantage of the standard stiletto fairing of the era. He also mounted a tachometer, rewired the entire bike, and modified the distributor using a small jeweler’s lathe. “With that tinker toy lathe, it took me nine hours just to modify the 27-tooth countershaft sprocket.”

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With only 26,000 original miles, the original standard cylinder bores were found to be quite serviceable. Well-known Vincent expert Marty Dickerson supplied a brand new standard 11:1 piston while legendary restorer Mike Parti implanted an Alpha big end and lined the flywheels. The heads were ported to match the Amal GP carburetor that Al found at a swap meet where he also located the Norton 4-speed transmission now found on the Red Rocket in place of the standard Burman box.


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As for the name of the bike, Al says he took creative license in assigning it the moniker of “Red Rocket” as the Vincent is technically a Comet streetbike that’s been massaged into a Gray Flash replica, with a Manx fairing and a red paint job. “I painted it red because I wanted people to see me on the track and get out of my way or at least give me a wide berth.”


The Vincent Comet is half the engine of the bigger Rapide, but not half the motorcycle. To own a Comet may not have as much cache as being an owner of a Vincent twin, but this 1950 Vincent Comet race bike is still special. As the seller states, you can continue to campaign it on the track, or with a few additions, and a few subtractions (11:1 CR would be hard to kick start) you could ride this to the local bike night, and do it really fast. BB

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1 Response

  1. Jess says:

    The picture of Rollie Free in his swim trunks at Bonneville on a Vincent is more iconic. But this picture of the young lady is more interesting!