Vincent 1950 “Comet” 499cc OHV single frame # # R/1/5159 engine # F5AB/2A/4441 rear frame # RC/1/6341
In 1928 Phil Vincent acquired HRD Motors Ltd. and formed the Stevenage-based Vincent-HRD company; JAP and later on Rudge Python engines were used. In 1932 Phil Irving joined the company and by the end of 1934 the Vincent/Irving designed 500cc Comet engine was presented. It featured a high camshaft and short pushrods angled at 62 degrees. The makers guaranteed a 90 mph top speed.
The war stopped motorcycle production for a number of years: at the 1948 Olympia Show the new series C Comet was presented. The HRD initials were deleted from the factory’s models after Philip Vincent became aware that potential American buyers were confused because they wondered if there was a connection with Harley-Davidson. The 84x90mm high cam single delivers 28HP@5,800 rpm with a compression ratio of 6,8:1. The engine is used as the main frame member and the front suspension consists of hydraulically dampened girder forks, which were considered more suitable than the common telescopic type. The rear end is sprung by a cantilever system with hydraulic damping.
The Comet continued in production until 1954, offering the same degree of refinement as its bigger brother, albeit with reduced performance. Even so, the Comet combined a 90mph potential with excellent fuel economy and was the ideal touring mount for the discerning rider who placed civility of manners and quality of construction above outright performance. An expensive machine to produce, the Comet did not sell as well as its maker had hoped and was dropped when the Series-D range was introduced. Production of all Vincents finished by the end of 1955. Its creator was an uncompromising perfectionist who refused to build his machines down to a price; a Comet would cost about 50% more than a Norton ES 2.
This Series-C Comet comes with an old-style continuation logbook (issued 1960) confirming matching rear frame and engine numbers. The front frame probably has been replaced at some time, but has also been manufactured in 1950. The logbook mentions date of registration as August 24, 1950 and lists owners up to 1975 but there is no subsequent history available. In 2021 the engine was completely rebuilt by the highly regarded specialist restorers NP Veteran Engineering in Heathfield, East Sussex. This older-restoration specimen, fitted with 125mph Smiths speedometer, is in good running condition. (Video available)