1952 Vincent Rapide For Sale
Thanks to reader Jess for pointing this one out. In the minds of motorcyclists of a certain age, no motorcycle can really match the aura and mystique of a v-twin Vincent. Expensive, powerful, dripping with exotic technology, and produced only in muted colors that were either serious or sinister, depending on whether or not you’d had one try to kill you or not…
Hunter S Thompson referred to the Vincent Black Shadow in his writing, using the iconic name as shorthand for everything mysterious and dangerous about motorcycles: “It is like riding a Vincent Black Shadow, which would outrun an F-86 jet fighter on the take-off runway, but at the end, the F-86 would go airborne and the Vincent would not, and there was no point in trying to turn it…”
Even if you’ve never seen a Vincent, the picture in your head is probably pretty close after reading that.
Phil C Vincent began making motorcycles during the 1920’s by slotting other manufacturer’s engines and transmissions into frames he designed. His enterprise met with some success, and this allowed the burgeoning company to design its own powerplant. The 500cc single formed the basis of the v-twin that Vincent’s Rapide was literally built around: while the original 1936 “Series A” used a traditional frame, the later “Series B” model was almost completely frameless, with the steering head bolted directly to the front cylinder and the rear suspension to the gearbox.
Which sounds an awful lot like a Ducati Panigale, except that the Ducati uses a less advanced style of front suspension…Unhappy with the flexing that plagues telescopic forks to this day, Vincent used a variation of the girder front end. This girder front end was advanced in theory, although limited damping of the era did lead to notoriously unforgiving handling.
Quite literally, there was nothing on the road like it at the time, and you could argue that there hasn’t been anything like it since.
The v-twin came in two performance flavors. The bike being offered is the lower-spec Rapide, not the evocatively-named Black Shadow, although many of these have been improved to the point where performance differences are irrelevant. In this case, it looks like it’s been cosmetically updated to match the sinister black of the Shadow as well…
From the original eBay listing: 1952 Vincent Rapide for Sale
Up for grabs…Here’s a very nice 1952 Vincent Rapide 1000. Has been given a light custom treatment with many smart and usable upgrades. Has black engine with two front cylinder heads (a la Lightning). Fitted with Lightning front brakes and center pull brake cables; acentuated with extended cam arms in the front. Extended intake manifolds with Amal Concentric carburetors. Magneto has been replaced with points and coil, generator replaced with Alton alternator. All 12V electrics. Rare 5″ 150 mph Smiths chronometric speedometer. Numbers on frame headstock are “RC/1/5878”. Numbers on rear frame section are “RC 8835C”. Engine case halves match (both stamped “XX 59”), engine number is “F10 AB/1/8128”. Altogether, an excellent road going package. Feel free to call or email with any questions. Good luck!
I’m a big fan of “artistic” photography, although I’d prefer clean, unretouched shots when you’re using those pictures to sell a $50,000 motorcycle. We’re just north of that now, with active bidding and the reserve not yet met. It’s not a real Black Shadow, but it’s pretty clear this is a gorgeous bike, one of the most desirable and collectable and technically interesting machines ever built.