With the preparation of this book, came numerous questions about my passion for the Vincent. How and why was I inspired to create a frame for that fantastic engine, details about my design choices, my successes in business, but also some failures such as my project to reproduce the Vincent engine in the 1970s. And, of course, the fact that many workshops have been manufacturing and selling unauthorized copies of my frames even today. In fact, dozens of questions and a lot of good memories, all wrapped up with intense feelings.
Everything started in 1953 when I met a Black Shadow for the first time while I was in the middle of my four-year apprenticeship as a precision mechanic in Zurich. I became the owner of this fabulous machine one and a half years later and fast forward, more than 60 years later, this Vincent is still my favorite bike utilizing the stock frame but with some improvements to the brakes and suspension
Today I ride it attached to a classic French Precision sidecar. I also recently upgraded my Shadow with a stunning Godet 1330cc engine delivering 98 horsepower. I cannot imagine a bike that could give me more pleasure considering I have had the privilege to build, ride and race many different dream motorcycles, all more attractive than the last. But this is the one. I started my riding experience with it and I will not separate from it for the rest of my life.
The last Vincent motorcycle left the factory one week before Christmas 1955 and was presciently labeled ‘The Last.’ It had to be clear that there would be no more machines of that breed, and enthusiasts were to be left on their own to organize the ‘after party.’ The Vincent HRD Owners Club was going to be the cement for those who continued to ride their Vincents daily, or to meetings, sometimes shipping their bikes overseas for international rallies. For the club racers, however, the ‘unacceptable’ was simply the fact that the performance of the Vincent would be frozen in time, whereas the competition was progressing every single day. If the brand had survived, the role of the customer-modifed Vincents would have been marginal, but as of now, these ‘specials’ would play a critical role in maintaining the image and the honor of the “World’s Fastest Motorcycle,” until the next big thing.
This chapter features the following main sections and 63 photos:
Nero: The first stab.
The NorVin solution became irresistible.
The Viscount: A first attempt to resume Vincent production.
The Parkin-Vincent: In the wake of Nero.
Curtis-Vincent: The NorVin concept pushed even further.
The architecture of the Egli-Vincent is simple and effective, and, because it is, it has broadly inspired specials builders since the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Beyond the replicas or recreations presented in Chapters 4, 5 and 6, the ‘Egli design’ has also influenced many builders using other contemporary engines to remind us of Fritz Egli’s work. The launch of the Egli-Vincent also became a critical milestone in the ongoing history of the Vincent, as most of these specials are related to it. However, numerous workshops have tried out ‘something different’ without achieving much success; most of them are either one-offs or made in tiny volume. At the end of this chapter, I identify a pattern and classify all these specials into five different schools.
This chapter features the following main sections and 77 photos:
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.