The immediate post-WWII period had been extraordinary for the Vincent, accumulating much fame, glory and pride across the world. By 1955, the Vincent was by far the fastest production motorcycle, combining innovation, excellence and exclusivity on two wheels. So fast and so advanced, it inspired all sorts of legendary stories, like in Australia, where “… a Rapide owner chased by a police motorcyclist, went so fast that he overtook another police motorcyclist riding flat out in pursuit of another speeding miscreant!” However, Vincents were also expensive machines to build and market, and profit were tiny. The works was placed under receivership as early as 1949, and the sharp decline in production from 1952 added to that financial stress the company was already enduring. The innovative Series D that Vincent was to launch for 1954 was the last chance that the company board of directors was prepared to offer Philip Vincent, and only a successful result could prevent the legendary Vincent brand from coming to an end.
This chapter features the following main sections with 118 photos:
The ABC(D)-Book of Vincent, including the presentation of all models, their technical characteristics, a product roadmap covering 1928 to 1955 and a comprehensive background to understand why and how the 1000 Vincent became a living legend…
Gunga Din (the works mule): From darkness to the limelight.
The World’s Fastest Standard Motorcycle, including Bonneville records.
The legendary Black Lightning (comprehensive review of the model and its history).
The 500 Grey Flash (comprehensive review on this unknown motorcycle and its history).
The Black Lightning land speed record campaign.
No need to race a Black Lightning to knock out the competition (club racing).
Speed and regularity, a shift in Vincent brand positioning (Montlhéry records).
The day the clock stood still at the Stevenage works (why and how the Vincent brand declined and came to an end).
There is so much more to say about the defenders of the faith, who have dedicated their lives “… to go fast on a Vincent.” We started this journey in the 1940s, with the very underpinnings of the legacy of the brand – Fame, Glory and Pride. Seventy years later, the Vincent could have been just a piece of 20th Century motorcycling history, but, fortunately, it is much more. In fact, the passion to ride Vincent motorcycles can only be equaled by the burning desire to go even faster – faster even than the 1000 Black Lightning, or the less known 500 Grey Flash. Although all attempts to resurrect the Vincent brand have failed, in many ways it is like the Phoenix, the immortal bird that rises from its ashes, and after which one of those attempts was named – Vincents have had many lives, and the band of enthusiasts, who have had the privilege to ride this fabulous motorcycle, will pass it on from this generation to the next: for them, it has become a symbol of their eternal passion.
This chapter features the following main sections and 117 photos:
Sprint and drag racing: Nero, Super Nero featuring George Brown, Mighty Mouse, Super Mouse featuring Brian Chapman, Pegasus and Barn Job.
The Egli-Vincent in a sprinter outfit and raced by Ray Elger.
Returning to Bonneville on a Vincent (until today).
The American way (chopper, bobber and pro-street styles).
The Vindian and Indian-Vincent.
Phil Irving’s 4-valve head design finally implemented.
1995-2008: The latest attempt to revive the Vincent-HRD brand.