Holy Grail: 1948 Vincent Rapide Series B

There are holy grail motorcycles and there are Holy Grail motorcycles. This 1948 Vincent Rapide is a Holy Grail motorcycle and then some. This beautiful beast of a Brit bike can be found here on Craigslist in South Strafford, Vermont and the seller is asking $40,000 for it. Thanks to Ed VT for sending in the tip on this rare bike!

Vincent HRD made the Rapide from 1936 to 1939, at which point Great Britain was heavily involved in the war and production stopped until 1946. The last one rolled off the assembly line in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England in 1955. Howard Raymond Davies (HRD) made motorcycles under the name HRD Motorcycles Ltd from 1924 to 1928. Unfortunately, the company failed and was subsequently sold twice with Phil Vincent finally taking control and the company was renamed Vincent HRD Co. Ltd.

The Series B Rapide (post-WWII) was really a superbike by even today’s standards. It has 998 CC of V-Twin power and they were about as good as it got. In fact, it was the world’s fastest production bike until Vincent came out with the famous Black Shadow. The Black Shadow upped the ante and became the world’s fastest production motorcycle with a top speed of 125 mph. It’s easy to tell them apart with the Black Shadow having a black painted engine and they’re much more valuable and famous than the Rapide is. But, that’s like choosing a favorite child to choose between a Rapide and a Black Shadow, you want both of them!

Is a 1946 bike somewhat crude and rude and ancient compared to the Mad-Max-like motorcycles of today? Yes, but we all knew that. They’re just like cars or trucks from this era, they don’t have heated grips or cup holders or GPS but you don’t need any of that nonsense to experience the thrill of driving an old car or truck and you sure as don’t need it on an old motorcycle. If you show up anywhere on this Rapide you will have a crowd around it in no time.

How cool is the STOP/brake light? Very cool. The seller doesn’t give too much info on this rare bike, here is the entire listing: “The ultimate classic! 1000cc Vincent in running condition. Recently rebuilt engine. Non matching numbers. Modern BTH magnito. Speedo is in Km/h. Very strong runner. Registered with Vincent owners club. To my knowledge this bike has not been owned by George Brown or John Surtees or Rollie Free but it is a full blooded Vincent.”

So now we know that it’s a non-numbers-matching bike, that may hurt the value. It’s not unusual to see a Vincent Black Shadow sell for double this asking price if not more. The seller has this one priced at Hagerty’s #2 excellent condition value and it’s hard to tell from the photos, but I would guess that it’s between that and good condition. The non-numbers-matching engine may really hurt the value so it could be priced on the high side even if it were in excellent condition. The engine is basically two Vincent Comet 499CC singles grafted together to make a 998 CC V-Twin with 45 hp. Have any of you owned a Vincent Rapide or any model of Vincent?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Don’t let geomechs see this,,,( his wife would probably say “go for it”) :)

    5
    • geomechs Member

      Ha! My tongue hit the ground! Good thing I wasn’t in the dog park. Beautiful bike! We were in Deerlodge 4 years ago, at the car museum (located in the old Montana Pennitentiary–a must see). We were just coming out and a guy rides up on a Vincent Rapide, nearly identical to this one. He parked it and went in. It seems to me he was from Spokane, and had owned the bike for many years; rode it regularly. I told him that he should’ve disguised it as someone could lock him away in the ‘Hole’ and steal his bike…

      12
      • mtshootist

        Geomechs, the guy you met on the Vincent was from Deer Lodge, and a very good friend of mine. He died a couple of years ago, from cancer. I spent a lot of time with him and that Rapide, I think it was a 1949. As far as I know one of his sons still has it. Here is a picture of the bike and my friend when we took a little tour around Yellowstone.

        12
      • mtshootist

        Geomechs that guy you met on the Vincent in Deer Lodge, was a very good friend of mine. The Vinnie was a 1948-49 Rapide, and he knew that bike inside and out. He died a couple of years ago from cancer, and I miss him a great deal. We spent a lot of time in his garage fiddling with bikes. He was from Deer Lodge, but would spend time out in Seattle area. I think one of his sons wound up with the bike. I always got a big kick out of riding around with him. You could have a bunch of Harleys parked someplace, and he would pull in with that Vincent, and immediately, no one could look at anything else. Outclassed everything on two wheels.

        10
      • geomechs Member

        Hi mts. So sorry about the loss of your friend. I wish I’d had a chance to get to know him better but, as with most people who would show up at a place like that with a gem like that, he was surrounded by people trying to get a closer look. He said something about riding in from WA so I just assumed that he was from there. Guess I should’ve checked the plate but I was too busy checking the bike out. I have to say it was a real treat seeing that bike…

        6
  2. newport pagnell

    Makes me want to do some speed runs prone in my speedos.

    7
  3. Derek

    Other way round; the Comet’s a twin with a cylinder missing, so they underperform (same running gear to haul around) but their prices bask in the shadow cast by the twins. A mate of mine has one (just like this) – and another has a Norvin – they’re nice things to ride. They’re fairly effortlessly quite quick, sort of like a Ducati or Guzzi in terms of smoothness.

    The fact that the numbers don’t match doesn’t really matter in this one’s case – it seems to be a good used bike.

    4
    • Andy

      The story I always read was that the single was first, and Vincent or Phil Irving got the idea for the twin by accidentally laying one blueprint on top of another at an angle. I’m pretty sure Vincent made the singles first.

  4. ken TILLY

    Not sure if that’s the correct speedometer, which if memory serves me right, should be about 5 inches in diameter, and marked in MPH of course.

    • Andy

      I think the huge speedo was for the Black Shadow, and the bike is 70 years old–who knows where it was originally sold? Plus, if the numbers don’t match, it could be a Frankenvincent, in which case the speedo is the least of your worries.

      2
  5. Classic Steel

    Nice bike but not 40k for me …

    Rare is the eye of the beholder tied to price

    For half of 40 one could get a slick bike
    that rides great more dependable
    with ABS brakes and balanced which is safer and faster

    2
    • LAB3

      This has been brought up before and I’ll say it again, this is a website about classics not the newest, latest and greatest! For most of us (me included) $40k would be better spent if I where wanting a fast, ride all day and not have to worry about repairing it type bike. If that’s what you (or me) want there’s plenty of other places to find it.

      19
    • Dirk

      That’s not what it’s about.

      3
    • Andy

      So?

    • Andy

      Also, if you think this is too old fashioned for the price, I recommend you price out a Brough Superior.

      7
    • Pat

      And absolutely no soul….

      4
    • triumph1954 Member

      Classic Steel, we all know about the modern stuff. Why do you continue to tell us about it , who cares besides you and a few others. I’am here to look at the old stuff and not read what winers and know it alls such as yourself to tell me about the new stuff. There is other places for that. Why don’t you look into it and contribute your knowledge to those places? How about instead of Classic Steel, you change to Modern Plastic ? This bike is worth the money!
      .

      6
    • Neil Nagle

      Classic Steel ?
      Really ?
      Observations may be true… but it wouldn’t be a Rapide. I still ride my ’74 Norton 850 Commando, which I bought new in ’74. I also ride modern bikes. My Norton is a Motor Cycle, that’s it, basically a cycle which is powered by an engine. I wouldn’t ride it cross country, I’m too old and enjoy the comfort on my modern bikes. But I tell you what, where ever I ride my Norton it draws a crowd. And, I get no greater thrill than throwing my leg over that Norton saddle. No NEW bike matches the feeling of riding my old Nort. You can’t put a price on nostalgia.
      Ps. still wearing original paint.

      10
    • MIKE

      I love my Vincents. They generate a lot of chatter when parked outside the Horseshoe Tavern in downtown Toronto.The comet handles and drives just like the Rapide, and will almost run as fast.

      2
  6. sluggo

    Not being an Egli Vincent Ill have to pass, Way to pedestrian for me. Wouldnt want to be lumped in with grey porridge punters.
    .
    .
    ClassicSteel needs a clue! Probably drives a Prius or Leaf. Listens to NPR and rides a modern plastic fantastic BMW serviced by the dealership and sniffs at owner mods.

    7
    • Classic Steel

      You guys are hilarious 😆
      Why don’t you buy the bike and send an update on the ride weekly.

      Has anyone notice the stock
      market has lost all its gains for the year ?
      This will level set pricing in the future .

      So go ahead buy high and sell low when the bottom falls out .

      My muscle car is a 67 mustang convert built from ground up. It’ has Shelby mods of tail lights and side scoops that looks good and driven hard for fun.

      I drive a newer bike as I log about five thousand miles per year and don’t mind cruising with friends at 80 for long distances.

      So tell me you drop 40 grand are you going to ride 500 mikes on a weekend and be
      able to walk with your back straight after bouncing all day!

      You going to feel comfortable going in to eat or hit a bar at night with the classic in the lot? becaise if you want the bike buy it but don’t judge someone with common since on what would or could’ve done with it ……other than going to a car show or bike night and say yep I put ten miles a week on it and the. Wax it again.

      Now your telling me this is a classic site always? I see late model wagons and trucks all the time.

      3
      • LAB3

        I’m sure there’s a point there somewhere and with it being the beginning of winter you’ll be able to get away with wearing a hat so it won’t show.

        5
      • Andy

        I had a ’77 Bonneville and a ’74 R90/6 that I routinely rode at 80 mph and for 5000+ miles per year. They needed regular maintenance, and parts replaced just on account of being old, but out of the 11 bikes I’ve registered, none was built after 1983, and I don’t feel the urge to get one that was. I expect I would be much happier riding a Vincent than a modern bike, and I hope you think less of me for it. That being said, I wouldn’t spend $40k on anything–my house is a ’89 Econoline.

        7
      • Howard A Member

        I think that was spot on. These things aren’t for “us”, and you know it. Someone with a spare $40g’s laying around, has little if any intention of riding this, for all the reasons you mention. It’s solely for bragging rights at the next cocktail party, and will sit in a corner, with all the other toys. Fantastic motorcycle,,,for the 50’s, but this thing gonna shake, and leak and vibrate, and in 15 miles ( with that RAM 2500 riding your a$$) the fun has worn off. You want to ride? Ride a modern bike, even my GW can’t be trusted anymore. Next bike, if any, will for sure be another H-D. Bunch out there and the best there is.

        5
      • Mountainwoodie

        EVERYBODY needs to take a chill pill…..I for one am willing to put up with the obvious lack of modern amenities on vintage iron for MY perception that driving them elevates the experience to somewhat north of soulfulness. Other folks worry about ABS and heated seats and wont drive anything other than a Camry.

        As for this being a classic site….Jamie and the gang do a bang up job sussing out stuff to read about. Am I excited by a ’75 Chevy truck? No…but then I just skip it.

        In the spirit of Rodney King, can’t we all just get along? :)

        9
      • Dan B

        Funny, the guy who mocks those who have classic bikes that they might ride only a few hundred miles a year, has a Shelby clone, which he probably drives a few hundred miles a year.

        2
  7. Somer

    Old expression, matching numbers doesn’t get you home. These are the most rideable of the classics with a suspension that was ahead of its time and a decent brake system. Lots of torque and you can drag your pegs in the corners.

    7
    • Andy

      I’d probably prefer non-matching numbers, just like I look for relacquered saxes. All other things being equal, it’s a great way to save a pile of cash.

      5
  8. glen

    First of all, no need for personal attacks. I think that every modern vehicle, is probably more dependable, safer, etc., but that’s not the point.

    11
  9. Gaspumpchas

    The rules below state no personal attacks–lets cool it and enjoy this great site.

    Cheers
    GPC

    16
  10. SMS

    Friend of mine bought a Black Shadow in the ‘80’s. He brought it to the shop and we got it running. Was terrible, all wobbly.

    Over the next few weeks we replaced all the bushings, seals, fluids, and other bits. Tightened and tuned it up. Nothing fancy needed.

    After that we all took turns riding it around the block, then city, then state. Man that thing rode great. Smooth, powerful, weight down low so it handled well and didn’t tire you out.

    The one who plops down $40k for this can ride it for years and most likely sell it for more.

    Ridden lots of bikes and can say that this bike is unique in that it can putt down the center of town, go on some long twisties, or power along for miles and feel like it is made for each of them. About the closest thing I know is a Goldwing.

    8
  11. Neil

    Okay everybody has put thier 2 cents in or even a tad more.

    Selling a HRD/Vincent on Craigslist! ?!?!?

    Either something is really wrong with the bike or the owner is a bit off.

    I know this is not a black shadow/lighting
    But Bonhams sold a 1951 Black Lightning
    2018 for $929,000.

    If the “rebuilt” engine on the bike for sale had Lightning spec. Cam and Pistons it would be just as quick.
    If the bike is legit it would be a nice investment you could ride and enjoy.
    Hold it for 10 years and sell it for $8 Grand. There’s no way prices are going to fall.

    3
  12. Neil

    Okay everybody has put thier 2 cents in or even a tad more.

    Selling a HRD/Vincent on Craigslist! ?!?!?

    Either something is really wrong with the bike or the owner is a bit off.

    I know this is not a black shadow/lighting
    But Bonhams sold a 1951 Black Lightning
    2018 for $929,000.

    If the “rebuilt” engine on the bike for sale had Lightning spec. Cam and Pistons it would be just as quick.
    If the bike is legit it would be a nice investment you could ride and enjoy.
    Hold it for 10 years and sell it for $80 Grand. There’s no way prices are going to fall.

  13. ken TILLY

    Hagerty values a “Fair” Vincent like this one at $50k and a “Good” Vincent at $75k so this one appears to be too good to be true, however, if I had that kind of scratch, and the wherewithal to get it back to the UK, then I would have been on it like a heat rash. I have only ever ridden one once long ago and the suspension would take a bit of getting used to but, hey, it’s a VINCENT, second only to a Brough Superior in the pecking order of the worlds best bikes.

    6
  14. ben dobreuenaski

    Say what you will about old bikes I’ll take one any day in the 1980’s I rode a BSA Victor to Lake George 271 miles and back. I assembled the bike from a couple of basket cases and the only problem I discovered was a broken rear motor mount bolt. Did I mention the last hundred miles were in a rainstorm. I agree creature comforts are great for most riders but some of us like to be a bit more primitive. It’s like having a Cobra compared to a Tesla. Creature comforts or the Primitiveness of pure Joy.

    8
  15. Mark

    My friend and I pulled all these bikes out of a barn. The group included a Vincent Rapide which I still have. My friend still has the Triumph Thunderbird. There was also an original paint ’48 Indian Chief and a number of Triumph Bonnevilles. The whole story appears in Tom Cotter’s book “Harley in the Barn” starting on page 69. An amazing experience!

    13
    • ken TILLY

      @Mark. Nice Barn Find there! I have just ordered Tom Cotters book “The Vincent in the Barn and am looking forward to reading it.

      3
    • Juan Fangio

      Mark, who’s that handsome guy in they blue shirt?

      • Mark

        I dunno- never saw him before. Too bad he photo-bombed this pic!

        1
    • Neil Nagle

      Sweet Jesus. You must have been in 7th Heaven ! My first scooter was a ’47 Indian Chief in ’65. I was only 15 years old at the time. I . I’ve had a ton of old Brits over the years. I bought a ’66 650 BSA Spitfire Mrk II in ’71 I wish I still had.
      Beautiful assortment you found. I’ll be looking up that publication. Very interesting story I’m sure.

      2
  16. Marco

    I don’t know much about these as I’m a vintage Harley guy (1937 74″ flathead) but boy that looks like like one sweet ride.

    3
  17. mtshootist

    The non-matching serial numbers is rather intriguing. According to one of the Vincent serial number websites, you are supposed to add 1900 to the four digits of the engine number and you will get the sum on the upper frame and lower frame which are supposed to match by themselves. http://thevincent.com/vinprod.html My guess is that this is likely an original bike, finding a replacement engine for a Vincent would have been extremely difficult any time after the mid fifties. There were never a lot of them imported into the US. Wish my buddy was still alive, I am sure he would have had some insight. As for you naysayers, he used to say that there were motorcycle riders, then there were Vincent riders. Geomechs thanks for the thoughts, it is comforting to know that a distinguished member of this site such as yourself had the opportunity to meet one of my dearest friends, and admire his bike.

    3
  18. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Thanks for the great comments, folks!

    As others have said, please no personal attacks and no off-color stuff. Women and kids are reading these posts and comments, it isn’t just us grizzled, hairy men, so let’s take it easy on the graphic comments and photos. That doesn’t work at all for the site owners and it really shouldn’t be ok with anyone here. Thanks for understanding. If your mother, priest – or other religious leader if you have one – or your kids would cringe at the comment or photo, please don’t post it.

    6
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Thanks Scotty. Live to ride, ride to live. Bother no one else. And a Happy Thanksgivng to all !!!!!!!!! I am still above ground, I have much to be happy for. Take care, Mike. And I could be the biggest turkey in Wisconsin.

      2
      • Neil

        No Leinie, biggest turkey in WS. would be Rodgers. This coming from a Vikings fan in Minneapolis. No offence about Rodgers, he’s obviously one of the best in NFL history at QB.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        LOL Neil! My vote goes to Holmgren.

        1
  19. ken TILLY

    Howard A. If I had the $40k I would ride it on every day that I could as I certainly wouldn’t be buying it for “bragging rights” or even as an investment, because if I had that amount of cash “lying around” I would most likely have a lot more available for the rest of life’s necessities. I would also leave it in my will to our local motor museum.

    1
  20. pat gill

    My youngest motorcycle is a 1941 Matchless 350cc ohv G3L ex army, rigid rear tele front forks, very nimble, ride at 50mph all day, my all time favorite was my 1930 Matchless Silver Hawk, 600cc ohc V4 with rear suspension, 8 to 80 mph in top, ride it all day at 70 mph, 12 years ago I rode 620km from Durban to Johannesburg in a day and a half on a borrowed 1934 Matchless D80, 500cc ohv single, never wanted or needed anything newer, current ride is a 1914 Matchless machine gun (Vickers Mk1) carrier, now that is slow but everyone gets out of your way………..

    4
    • geomechs Member

      Wow! I’d like to come across any one of those bikes. Nothing like an old bike to putt around on…

      2
    • ken TILLY

      Hi Pat. Trust you are well. The Matchless Silver Hawk that you own/owned, was that the same bike that Gary Brown used to own?

      1

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