1955 Vincent Rapide


  • Mechanically sound with recent recommissioning work 
  • Originally supplied as a Black Knight enclosed specification in 1955
  • Only 4,396 miles from new
  • Historic buff logbook present dating back to 1961

The Appeal

The Vincent Motorcycle company began in 1928 when Philip Vincent purchased HRD Motors Ltd, an already established race-winning bike manufacturer that was running into financial difficulties. While Mr. Vincent had been prototyping his own bikes, the purchase of an already-established company to spur on development and manufacturing of production motors, in combination with Vincent’s innovative ideas and passion for performance, helped propel the company into one of the worlds fastest motorcycle brands of its time.   
The Rapide, a name commonly known for its record-breaking high speed, was released in 1936 and quickly found its way into success in both racing and production sales. Produced over 19 years, the Rapide saw four main revisions—series A, B, C, and D—each on the cutting edge of motorcycle technology and providing innovative design for its time.  
Released in 1954 and representing the final revision of the Rapide before the Vincent factory closed its doors in 1955, the Series D Black Knight was designed as a more enclosed option in the series. With updated styling, the Black Knight included an innovative enclosed handlebar fairing, leg covers, engine cover, and a hinged rear section that provided easy access to the drive chain and rear wheel.
While it’s clear this current motorcycle does not include those attributes, it was originally purchased as this specification in 1955. Over the 67 years since its production, this particular Rapide now more closely resembles a Black Shadow; a Series C revision special edition, with the Black Shadow’s front and rear forks as well as the speedometer present currently. With its history mostly unknown, the reasoning for these changes has been lost to time, however as it currently sits it is completely ready to run and in stunning visual condition, benefitting from modern revisions, and fully recommissioned after a period of dry storage. 

The History and Paperwork

  • V5c present
  • Original Buff logbook dating back to 1961 present
  • MoT and VED exempt in the UK, last MoT in 2012 with 3,407 miles and no advisories
  • The bike is registered as a Historic Vehicle
  • Date of first registration 31st May 1955
  • Just 4,396 miles on the odometer; unconfirmed as speedometer is not original, MoT history shows 3,028 miles in 2009 
  • Purchased at auction by current owner in 2021, barely ridden since, mostly dry stored to date
  • Known changes include but are not limited to: 
    • Removal of exterior Black Knight body panels
    • Introduction of Black Shadow front and rear forks (confirmed by Conway Motors via the fork frame numbers) as well as speedometer
    • Engine is not original numbers matching, original engine said to be in America as confirmed by Vincent Owners Club
    • Disc brakes front and rear
  • Recent recommissioning in 2023 including the below works performed, invoices present:
    • Updated starter motor sprag clutch
    • BTH Magneto and fixed gear fitted
    • Carburettors fully rebuilt, ultrasonically cleaned, and prepared 
    • Brakes stripped and rebuilt with new hoses
    • New wiring loom fitted
    • New battery
    • New starter button
    • New horn and dip light switch
    • Full service including oil, filter, and spark plugs
    • New handlebars and clutch lever
    • New silencer by 
  • Owner states Vincent Owner’s shop has recently done final setup of the carburettors, valve, and ignition timing, with test drive reportedly stating it pulls very well, even for a Vincent
  • Benefits from an historic respray to a high standard at an unknown time by previous owner

The Vincent Owner's Club confirmed the following to the vendor in 2022:

The headstock frame number was not the original, as the headstock was of a earlier type from an earlier series. The rear frame was also an earlier series C type with no number on it whereas the registration and its frame number was from a later series D bike. 

The VOC therefore list this bike as a restamped frame in their database. 

The Condition 

  • Paintwork in near-showroom condition
  • Gauges and buttons in great visual condition, and owner states all functioning correctly
  • Handlebars, grips, clutch, and brake levers all in great condition and looking new
With an undocumented historical respray in its past, along with the loving car of its previous owners, the bike has remained in excellent condition to this date. With paintwork shining, brightwork gleaming, decals in excellent order, and tank side emblems clean and crisp, this Vincent is in near-showroom condition. 
In addition to the exterior paintwork, the visual condition of the engine and running gear similarly show signs of excellent care and are the result of a serious effort made to preserve the condition of the bike. With no visible damage to the cooling fins on either of the heads or barrels, highly polished metalwork, and clean overall presentation, the bike gleams with vintage styling.
The lights, speedometer, and forks are all in great condition as well, with no signs of aging and only very minor marks noticed from the road as to be expected. The wheels are in great condition, but with red and black internal colourway present but some pain flaking away seen here. The front and rear fenders are in good shape but do show a few small dings overall, but this only seems to add to the character of the bike for us. There’s also at least one small ding spotted on the top of the tank as pictured, along with some very small marks from the road up there as well. 
The seat is in good usable condition with no seen rips or tears, benefitting from a reupholster in the past, but it could use a deep clean and leather treatment if desired to bring it up to the same level as the rest of the bike. 

The Mechanics 

  • Owner states all electronics and mechanics working as they should
  • Engine visual condition is in above average condition for the age
  • Maintenance up to date, owner states no known issues
  • Owner states the bike stops, starts, shifts, and handles better than expected
Benefitting from the recent recommissioning works, this Vincent is raring to get up and go. With a modern braking system, new magneto, rebuilt carburettors, and an overhauled starter, this bike is easy to start up and convenient to use as often as you like. After the carb rebuild and engine tune, the owner states the shop performing the work only had glowing remarks about its performance and handling, specifically noting it “pulled like a freight train…”
While the bike is coming up on 67 years old, it is indeed in prime condition to be ridden, raced, or toured. The owner states it is an easy bike to ride, benefitting from modern updates, and has been completely gone through in preparation for sale.  


While it isn’t a direct representation of a Black Knight or a Black Shadow, this Rapide is indeed a fine representation of the Vincent nameplate. Considering this particular Rapide is not completely original to begin with, it leaves plenty of room for continued modification if the next owner so desires, without reducing the historical significance of the bike. 
With a true high-performance design and legendary engineering combined with an unmistakable early post-war styling, this Rapide is mechanically fit for duty and itching to be put through its paces. On top of that, this is one of just over 500 Rapide Series D bikes, making it a very rare bike indeed.  

Notice to bidders

This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*

UK-registered cars and motorbikes on Car & Classic are run through an online HPI check. On the HPI report, this vehicle shows no insurance database markers for damage or theft. It is currently not covered by a finance agreement.

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Auction Details
  • Year 1955
  • Make Vincent
  • Model Rapide
  • Colour Black
  • Mileage 4,396 Miles
  • Engine size 1000
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Telford
  • County Shropshire
  • Country United Kingdom
  • Auction ends
Bidding history
32 Bids
  • al•••• £28,250 22/09/23
  • al•••• £28,000 22/09/23
  • al•••• £27,750 22/09/23
  • PJ•••• £27,500 22/09/23
  • PJ•••• £27,250 22/09/23
  • al•••• £27,000 22/09/23
  • pa•••• £26,500 22/09/23
  • al•••• £26,000 22/09/23
  • pa•••• £25,000 22/09/23
  • PJ•••• £24,500 22/09/23

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