Vincent Motorcycles was a British manufacturer of motorcycles from 1928 to 1955.
Vincent Motorcycles, "the makers of the world's fastest motorcycles", began with the purchase of HRD Motors Ltd less the factory premises, by Phil Vincent in May, 1928.
HRD was founded by the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) pilot, Howard Raymond Davies, who was shot down and captured by the Germans in 1917. Legend has it that it was while a prisoner of war that he conceived the idea of building his own motorcycle, and contemplated how he might achieve that. It was not until 1924 that Davies entered into partnership with E J Massey, trading as HRD Motors. Various models were produced, generally powered by JAP engines.
Unfortunately, although HRD motorcycles won races, the company ran at a loss. In January 1928 it went into voluntary liquidation. The company was initially bought by Ernest Humphries of OK-Supreme Motors for the factory space, and the HRD name, jigs, tools, patterns, and remaining components were subsequently offered for sale again.
Philip Vincent was advised to start production under an established name. He had built a motorcycle of his own in 1927 and in 1928 had registered a patent for a cantilever rear suspension of his own design. With the backing of his family wealth from cattle ranching in Argentina, Vincent acquired the trademark, goodwill and remaining components of HRD from Humphries for £450 in 1928.
The company was promptly renamed Vincent HRD Co., Ltd and production moved to Stevenage. The new trademark had "Vincent" in very small letters above "HRD" written large. After World War 2 Britain had an export drive to repay its war debts, and the USA was the largest market for motorcycles, so in 1949 the HRD was dropped from the name to avoid any confusion with the "HD" of Harley Davidson, and the motorcycle became The Vincent.
In 1928 the first Vincent-HRD motorcycle used a JAP single-cylinder engine in a Vincent-designed cantilever frame. The earliest known example extant exists in Canberra, Australia. Some early bikes used Rudge-Python engines. But after a disastrous 1934 Isle of Man TT, with engine problems and all three entries failing to finish, Phil Vincent and Phil Irving decided to build their own engines.
Phil Vincent also experimented with three-wheeled vehicles, amphibious vehicles, and automobiles. In 1932 the first 3-wheeler, "The Vincent Bantam" appeared, powered by a 293cc Villiers engine. It was a 2.5 cwt delivery van with a car seat and a steering wheel.
In 1931 Phil Irving joined Vincent as chief engineer. His first engine design was an OHV 500 cc single-cylinder engine in 1934 called the "Meteor".
Vincent produced the Meteor and Comet motorcycle models, capable of 90+mph however his customers wanted more (don’t they always). 1936 saw the birth of the Series A Rapide, a V-Twin 998cc engine capable of 110mph and the following years saw Series B, C and the (unofficial) D all using the same basic engine design. These were the fastest production motorcycles the world had ever seen, many of them live on and continue racing to this day.
At a Vincent Owners' Club dinner in the summer of 1955, Phil Vincent announced that the company could no longer continue in the face of heavy losses and that production of motorcycles would cease almost immediately.
In 1955, one week before Christmas, the last Vincent came off the production line and was promptly labeled "The Last". The factory then turned to general engineering, the manufacture of industrial engines, and there was the Amanda water scooter. The company went into receivership in 1959. It has since been bought and sold by other engineering firms.
Moto blogWed, 23 Jul 2014
“Built for Speed – Race Inspired Motorcycles and Art” is the title of Michael Lichter’s 14th annual “Motorcycles as Art” exhibition in Sturgis this August, which for the second year in a row, will be jointly curated by Michael and Paul d’Orleans of the Vintagent. ‘Built for Speed’ is sure to impress visitors with a beautiful and thought-provoking display of motorcycles and related art, the race-inspired theme making connections between motorcycle racing and custom bike designs inspired by racers. Each custom bike in ‘Built for Speed’ reflects a branch of racing; Speedway, Flat Track, Drag Racing, Board Track, Grand Prix, Land Speed Record, and will be displayed beside the racing machines suggesting the origins of each style.Thu, 22 May 2014
The upcoming Bonhams Banbury Run Sale is set to be a motorcycle enthusiast’s dream, with 102 lots of iconic bikes available to the highest bidder. Within the sale, an intriguing duo of Brough Superiors will be offered for auction from a family synonymous with motorcycles for generations – Myerscough. The motoring history behind the Myerscough family began in 1893 when Leonard Myerscough opened a business repairing and selling bicycles, followed by motorcycles and automobiles. At the peak of this business, five locations serviced the Liverpool area under the banner L Myerscough & Sons Ltd. Encouraged by his father, the eldest son, Len Jr, took up dirt track racing in the late 1920s, enjoying success as a contracted team rider for both the Belle Vue Aces and Preston teams from 1928 to 1931.Mon, 28 Apr 2014
The ex-George Brough, Brough Superior SS100, which was projected to sell in the neighborhood of $235k – $300k, actually brought in nearly half a million dollars Sunday. Registered in 1939, the motorcycle was campaigned by George Brough himself in the London-Edinburgh Trial that same year.The grand final tally for the Bonhams Stafford Sale of Pioneer, Vintage, and Collectors’ Motorcycles & Memorabilia totaled $3,419,981. “We are delighted with the results achieved for this long and well-established sale.Wed, 23 Apr 2014
Endurance racing is perhaps the ultimate test of both man and machine. In the past, teams would pace themselves in order to rest both elements enough to make a final push at the end. These days, however, motorcycles are more reliable than ever, and riders train like triathletes.Tue, 11 Feb 2014
Racing great John Surtees turns a landmark 80 years old today, and he remains one of the biggest names in two- and four-wheeled motorsports. Surtees is the only person to have ever won the premiere world championships for both motorcycle and car racing, capturing the 500cc World Championship in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 and the Formula One Championship in 1964. Born Feb.Tue, 31 Dec 2013
Mission Motorcycles is suing Vincent Ip, one of three co-founders of the electric motorcycle company, who was terminated in November. This according to a lawsuit filed this month in U.S. District Court, and first reported by the Associated Press.Fri, 11 Oct 2013
On October 20, Bonhams will be auctioning off a collection of original illustrations by Bruce Smith from the 1960s and 1970s. Each one will be signed by Smith on heavy cartridge paper. The collection is comprised of cutaway illustrations of a 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor 750cc, Chris Vincent’s 1964 BSA 650cc A65 Race Outfit, and a 1966 Greeves Racer, the largest of this series being 45cm x 62cm.Mon, 07 Oct 2013
Bonhams’ annual fall auction, the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show, at Stafford County Showground is scheduled for October 20, 2013. Included in the auction is the above pictured 1974 Kawasaki H1-RW 500cc triple. Expected to sell for approximately $96,000 to $112,000, the Japanese works Grand Prix racer is one of only two machines built by the factory for the French Kawasaki importer SIDEMM for use in the 500cc World Championship. The bikes were ridden during the 1974 season by the French endurance racing specialist Christian Léon and French-Canadian Formula 750 star Yvon Duhamel.Thu, 05 Sep 2013
Evel Knievel: Daredevil. Godfather of Extreme Sports. Comic book hero?Mon, 26 Aug 2013
In a world where modern motorcycles are full of computers, sensors and plastic, there are still those folks who yearn for the days of yore. A time when motorcycles were made of metal and you used a wrench — not a keyboard — to make your bike go faster. Careful and skilled craftsmanship, along with independent thinking, is a mark of pride among these men and their machines, some of whom are featured in the video below by Gestalten.tv.