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 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” ’
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.