Was the Vincent-HRD A-series 998 cc twin engine designed purely because of a case of two single-cylinder drawings accidentally being stacked together? You know what they say about printing the legend. Apparently, Vincent knew that some stories were simply too good to pass up.
In any case, the newly-rescheduled Summer Stafford Sale at Bonhams is actively looking for new bikes to join its ranks. While we’re all stuck inside, staring at the world through our computer screens, Bonhams has also announced a new star for this new sale: a 1938 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-A Rapide.
It’s not just any Series-A Rapide (and you have no idea how much it amuses me to write that, because it’s such a ridiculous sentence). The Series-A Rapides were rare enough to begin with, since only 78 were ever made, and only around 50 are still believed to exist in the world today.
No, this particular Series-A Rapide had the even rarer occupation of being a frequent factory demonstration machine. Registration number DUR 142 was used for road tests, all kinds of photos and advertisements of the era, and was at one time Vincent director Bill Clarke’s very own reliable factory steed. Now there’s a company vehicle!
Although this bike was built in February 1938, it bears the singular distinction of having never left the factory’s possession until 1959. Vincent went into administration in 1958, at which time Harper Engines Limited purchased the company and its remaining assets. Upon taking ownership, Harper immediately started selling off whatever items it didn’t want, including this specific Series-A Rapide. This bike has full documentation, including some rare early photographs. The present owner consigning it with Bonhams has had possession since the 1960s, where DUR 142 has been sitting in their garage for the past half-century.
Bonhams cautions that since it was a factory-owned and used demo bike, parts have doubtless been changed. In fact, both the crankcases and main frame have no numbers on them at all. This is apparently not an uncommon situation with some other Series A machines, so that’s at least some comfort if you’re extremely into Vincent-HRD history.
This very rare Series A Rapide is estimated to fetch between £190,000 and £220,000, or US $240,000 and $270,000. The Summer Stafford Sale will be held on August 15 and 16, 2020, and is the rescheduling of the previously announce Spring Stafford Sale, which was originally due to be held during the last weekend of April.