HRD 1948 Rapide 1000cc 2 cyl ohv 2806
HRD 1949 Rapide Series B 1000cc Upper-frame # R2900 Rear frame # R2900 Engine # F10AB/1/1042
Ever since the Series A’s arrival in 1937, the Vincent-HRD v-twin has been synonymous with design innovation, engineering excellence and superlative high performance.
From Rollie Free’s capture of the ‘world’s fastest production motorcycle’ record in 1948 on a tuned Series-B Black Shadow to the final, fully enclosed Black Knight and Black Prince, Philip Vincent’s stress on appearance and performance is legendary.
His machines bristled with innovative features, offering adjustment of brake pedal, footrests, seat height and gear-change lever.
The finish was to a very high standard commensurate with the cost of the machine, which was virtually double that of any of its contemporaries.
But above all else it was the v-twin’s stupendous performance that captivated motorcyclists, whether they could afford one or not.
The appeal of the HRD,lay in its ability to out-perform just about every other vehicle on the road, and in the early post-war years there was nothing to compare with it.
This was a time when the average family sedan was barely capable of reaching 70mph, and not until the advent of Jaguar’s XK120 was there a production sports car that could live with the thundering v-twins from Stevenage.
Indeed, when it was introduced in 1946, the Vincent-HRD Series-B Rapide was immediately the fastest production motorcycle on sale anywhere, with a top speed of 110mph.
The basic design clearly had even greater potential though, as was demonstrated by the tuned Rapide known as ‘Gunga Din’, ridden by factory tester George Brown, that proved unbeatable in UK motorcycle racing in the late 1940s. Private owners too had expressed an interest in extracting more performance from their machines, all of which convinced Philip Vincent that a market existed for a sports version and together with Chief Engineer Phil Irving, clandestinely assembled a brace of tuned Rapides.
These became known as the Black Shadow.
Vincent-HRD were indeed legendary in their own lifetime, and in the half-century since production ceased, the esteem in which this iconic motorcycle is held has only increased, fuelling the demand among discerning collectors for fine examples of the marque, such as that offered here.