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Last Vincent Rapide headlines auction


This Vincent Rapide, believe to be one of the first Series-A Rapide’s manufactured and possibly the last Vincent-HRD motorcycle to leave the factory in 1959, will headline the Bonhams Summer Stafford Sale in August.

The rare machine is expected to fetch £190,000 – £220,000 ($A380,000 – $A440,000) at the August 15-16 auction, alongside the 40th International Classic MotorCycle Show (if it is still on!).

It was used as a factory demonstrator, Vincent Director’s mount and a road test star.

The Series-A 998cc twin was evolved in 1936, with the apocryphal tale of the design being conceived as a result of two single-cylinder drawings being overlapped. Production of the model began in 1936 for the 1937 season, and ended when war broke out in 1939. Vincent-HRD’s sales brochure for 1938 described the Rapide:

The performance is electric. Power appears almost limitless, yet it is so smooth and controllable that it is a delight to ride, even in thick traffic. There is only one snag we have discovered in owning a “Rapide.” You never get a scrap with another machine, because no ordinary motor cycle can live with a “Rapide.” Here at last is a performance equal to the fastest T.T. models, coupled with silence, comfort, and tractability. A true Jekyll and Hyde.

With a top speed of 110mph, The Series-A Rapide was the fastest production vehicle when launched. Only 78 examples were manufactured, and approximately 50 examples are believed to survive worldwide.

Registered DUR 142, it was retained by the factory as a demonstrator and for promotional purposes. Accordingly, it was loaned to Motor Cycling in April 1938 to be road tested. The machine was taken to Brooklands for speed tests and was subsequently timed at 102 mph.


DUR 142 Clocked 102mph at Brooklands – Motor Cycling April 1938 (© Mortons Archive)

DUR 142 reappeared in 1955, when Vincent-HRD production ceased, and Motor Cycling covered the sad event by testing the last machine off the line, together with DUR 142 which they described as one of “The First” Series “A”

December 1955 ‘The Last of the Vincents’ Motor Cycling road test (© Mortons Archive)

The opportunity seldom arises to obtain a Series-A Rapide. Even rarer still, is the opportunity to acquire one with such historical significance. This particular motorcycle has seen service as a factory demonstrator, Vincent Director’s mount, road test star (twice) and was often photographed as the publicity vehicle for one of the most celebrated British motorcycle marques.

Mark Garside, Bonhams Motorcycle and Motor car Representative for the Northern Counties and Scotland commented:

It is particularly gratifying to bring an historic machine such as DUR 142 back into public notice after over half a century of hibernation. Machines such as this come to market very rarely, and it has taken years of patience to successfully consign this particular motorcycle.

Alongside the Vincent-HRD and the Morbidelli Collection, the Summer Stafford Sale will offer a superb range of pre-war ‘golden era’ British motorcycles, including:

1935 BROUGH SUPERIOR 982CC SS80, estimate £65,000 – 80,000

One of 300 surviving (of 460 produced) Matchless-engined SS80s, so-called due to its guaranteed 80mph top speed in road trim. Offered in excellent condition, having been the subject of a ‘nut and bolt’ restoration by top specialist Dave Clark, and featured in The Classic MotorCycle (Sept 2006 edition).

1927 MATCHLESS 982CC M3/S SPORTS SOLO, estimate £28,000-35,000

Rare and charismatic Vintage-era v-twin sports model, featuring Matchless’ own 982cc 50-degree v-twin engine.

1928 MONTGOMERY 680CC TWIN FIVE, estimate £25,000 – 35,000

Another Vintage-era v-twin rarity, the Montgomery was powered by J A Prestwich’s 680cc side valve v-twin engine, and was a direct competitor to the Brough Superior 5-15, although much rarer today. The Montgomery was professionally restored in the early 2000s, has been used extensively on runs (including pillion), and went on to win the ‘Concours Award’ at the 2004 Banbury Run.


1930 AJS 346CC R7 RACING MOTORCYCLE, estimate £25,000 – 35,000

Les Williams was the famous manager of Triumph’s factory works racing team with numerous victories in the 60s and 70s, and co-creator of ‘Slippery Sam’, winner of five consecutive TT production races. Surprisingly perhaps, his own collection comprised rival British marques – including this 1930 AJS 350cc, ridden to 10th place in the 1930 Manx Grand Prix Junior Race.

Other highlights include:

1916 HARLEY-DAVIDSON 1000CC MODEL J & PACKAGE TRUCK SIDECAR, estimate £ 25,000 – 35,000

This Model J was sold new in 1916 with the Package Truck option, a commercial-load carrier which was a runaway success and would remain in production for 42 years. Fully restored five years ago, this example also has the optional three-speed gearbox and electric lighting system and is offered with an additional Harley-Davidson sports sidecar.


1909 MINERVA 3½HP WITH WICKER SIDECAR, estimate £ 25,000 – 35,000

This sublime motorcycle from the premier European manufacturer is offered from an important private collection and is a regular entrant in the world-famous Sunbeam Motorcycle Club Pioneer Run.