Sid Biberman, Jacqueline Bickerstaff, Kevin Cameron,
Marty Dickerson, Roy Harper, Herb Harris,
Jerry Hatfield, Bill Hoddinott, Somer Hooker,
Stuart Jenkinson, Bruce Main-Smith, Glenn Shriver, and David Wright

Scroll down, or click on the name above to go directly to that individual’s writing.

 


Phil Vincent and Argentina
By Somer Hooker

As World War Two ravaged Europe, most manufacturers switched to wartime production. The Vincent H.R.D. Works was no exception. Like many of the soldiers in the front, both Phil Vincent and Phil Irving dreamed of motorcycles after the war. Even with bombs dropping around them, they were looking ahead to peacetime production and redesigning the H.R.D. twin-cylinder Rapide. Finally, in 1946 they were able to go into production with the new Series B Rapide. Pre-war twins had been plagued by a poor clutch design, so Irving developed a clever servo-clutch that was able to transfer up to 200 horsepower.

Phil Vincent’s father was a wealthy and well-connected Argentine rancher. He had funded much of the acquisition of the H.R.D. Company. Vincent himself had dual citizenship. During WWII, Argentina had built up one of the largest gold reserves in the world. The country had prospered by supplying beef to the troops in the Pacific Theater. After WWII, Argentina could afford to become an importing nation, while Europe was just crawling out of the clutches of the war. There was little money for motorcycles in England or Europe, but there was a great thirst for vehicles in Argentina. Furthermore, the continuing sale of beef facilitated the balance of trade between Argentina and UK/Europe. Many a person remembers eating Argentine meat after the Second World War.

The Argentine Vincent importer, Cemic, was so hot to have a new motorcycle to display at its upcoming show that it was decided to air freight the first production Rapide to Buenos Aires. Though a fairly common practice today, this was an almost unheard-of extravagance in 1946. The show was a success, and orders came in for Vincents. This was a double bonus for Phil Vincent, because as an exporter, he got preference for allocation of steel and alloys essential to the manufacture of his motorcycles. The UK needed hard currency, and exporting products was the best way they could get it. In fact, after the war, the British motorcycle industry ranked third - only behind automobiles and whiskey –- for earning export revenue for the UK. Phil Vincent saw an opportunity and nurtured it, knowing that the Argentines’ sporting blood would provide a lucrative market.

In the late 1940s, the popular markets for H.R.D.s were the United States (primarily California), Australia, and Argentina. When some of the newer models were released, they were showcased in these markets. It is of particular significance that both the first production Black Lightning and the first production Series C Black Shadow –- both of which were fitted with Vincent’s innovative Girdraulic fork - were sent to Argentina. At the same time, H.R.D.s were used by the Argentine police. The bikes were configured slightly differently for the Argentine market. Typically, they were shipped with two 19-inch wheels instead of the typical 20/19 setup. Steel valanced fenders, later called “touring fenders,” were often fitted. Both of these alterations were probably intended to help with the poorer road conditions found in Argentina. Rocks thrown from tires could slowly decimate the alloy fenders, and a wider tire was less likely to plow.

Frankly, if it hadn’t been for the lucrative Argentine market, Vincent might not have made it after the war. In the years just subsequent to the war, Vincent exported close to 800 bikes to Argentina. This was probably 25 percent of the company’s production prior to 1950. After 1950, most imports into Argentina were cut off by the newly-elected Juan Peron. Peron mandated that Argentina would become self-sufficient, and an isolationist state. Suddenly this important market evaporated for the Stevenage firm.

Vincent Grey Flashes in Argentina

 

Fortunately, other world and domestic markets helped compensate, but it was about this time that Vincent began his second round of receivership with his lending banks.

In 1991, I was fortunate enough to go to Argentina and buy the remains of a restoration shop. Due to the great imbalance between the Argentine peso and the US dollar during the 1980s, there were many Argentines smuggling motorcycles out of Argentina, into the US. At that time, Argentina had laws to protect “National Treasures,” but there were always ways to get objects out of the country, usually with bribes. When I first went to Argentina, two significant changes had taken place: the peso was pegged to the dollar, and the prohibitions on exporting had been lifted. I was able to acquire the remains of 18 Vincents, including part of a Grey Flash single-cylinder racer. They were in poor shape because the Argentines had not been able to import parts since 1950, so they were forced to make their own, and make do. Many repairs were acts of desperation; some of the parts were quite good and some of the repairs quite clever. I was introduced to the owners of several private collections, and I found a wealth of antique vehicles there, Vincents included. Argentines are truly what we call “gearheads.” They love their high-performance vehicles, and without them it is debatable whether the Vincent H.R.D. works would have made it in the days just following the war.

About the author:
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1946, Somer Hooker was for many years a professional in children's mental health. He explains that his current profession as an international rare motorcycle broker grew out of his efforts to keep an old Matchless G15 running, and that a trip to Argentina in 1991 in search of British motorcycles and parts was a break-through experience. Today, he serves an international clientele of motorcycle collectors in search of Broughs, Vincents, and other top-tier marques. Hooker is pictured above at Daytona in 1997.

Vinnylonglegs and Me:
Notes from a Satisfied Vincent Customer

By Stuart Jenkinson

My first experience with Vincents was with a Series B Rapide, which I bought in 1949, and for two years I was the fastest guy on wheels in the North East of England. But after this “honeymoon,” I was persuaded by the local Vincent dealer that a Black Shadow would “blow the Rapide into the weeds,” so I splashed out on a 1952 Series C model. However, this bike turned out to be no quicker, and I found out later that the Rapide had in fact been “breathed on” by its previous owner.

Then in 1954, the enclosed Series D Vincents hit the motorcycling press. I saw them at the ’54 Bike Show in London and convinced myself that a new Black Prince -- a Shadow with bodywork -- in 1955 would indeed be the ultimate touring iron. The weather protection looked as if it would be a benefit in the naff weather of my daily commute to work. I was fortunate also in that the Black Prince purchase was followed fairly soon by a job change that gave me two months of summer vacation each year.

However, I have to say that the first few years of ownership of the Prince were a serious disappointment. The handling was abominable, it leaked oil from every joint, the “weather protection” only kept the pillion passenger’s back dry and the panniers clean, and it rattled as much as both my earlier models. I wrote to Paul Richardson, the then service manager for Vincent, about this last point, and in his fairly short reply he merely said, “Yes, of course, but you know that all aluminium engines are noisier than cast iron ones, don’t you? We trust that at the speeds at which your motorcycle was designed to cruise, the noise is not really obtrusive.”

Then, after a few years of wallowing ownership, I decided to bite the bullet and replaced the original Series D “rubber” Upper Frame Member with the much stronger Series C unit, chopped at the rear to accommodate the Series D rear monoshock. This rather drastic modification, plus Koni shocks at both ends, really transformed the handling. And, as several more years went by, I gradually fettled all the oil leaks. By this time, my forays into Europe were concentrated every year on Greece, and it was here that another shortcoming became apparent. At ambient temperatures in the low 40 degrees Celsius, on dirt roads, with steep gradients, in first and second gears for an hour and more at a time, I burnt out an exhaust valve on two different occasions. Of course, I know that this isn’t the sort of going that the bike was designed for, but since by now I was pretty strongly attached to it, I decided to modify it a bit more, rather than buy a different machine. I ditched the original engine panels and the headlamp fairing, and designed a fairing that gave far more cooling. This one has two 100-watt Cibie lamps, and there’s now a 240 watt alternator to feed them. That 36 watt-Lucas dyno was a tad puny!

Twenty-five years ago a change of career enabled me to do even more European touring, and now Vinnylonglegs and I are in Europe for more than four months every year, leading groups of modern bikes on two and three-week trips. It is true, of course, that in spite of almost 53 years from new, we have only managed to rack up 710,000 miles together, but I really am beginning to love this bike.

To finish these notes I’d like to plagiarise one of Phil Vincent’s phrases and say, “THE VINCENT. The world’s best touring motorcycle.

This is a fact, not a slogan!” It might also be appropriate here to confirm another of PCV’s views, that the longevity of his machines was not conducive to repeat customers. I feel that Vinnylonglegs confirms his opinion. The bike is comfortable, economical on fuel (60-plus per gallon), and is happy to cruise all day at 70 mph on quarter throttle and 100 mph on half throttle. It is easy to maintain, though in fact very little maintenance is normally required in a year’s touring. Spares are not expensive, and absolutely everything can be obtained by return of post. And minor repairs (like changing exhaust valves!) can be carried out with little more than the standard tool kit, at the side of the road if need be.

Here is Vinnylonglegs’ maintenance history after 53 years:

Five big ends: The original Vincent unit lasted 50,000 miles. The second Vincent unit lasted 100,000 miles. The third Vincent unit lasted 135,000 miles. The next Alpha unit lasted 340,000 miles. The current Alpha unit has been in for 85,000 miles so far.

Re-bores: The first re-bore at 50,000 miles, second at 150,000 miles, third at 285,000 miles. Back to standard at 418,000 miles. Re-ringed at 478,000 miles. Last re-bore at 650,000 miles.

Bearings: All wheel bearings are still original, one set new gearbox bearings and three sets main engine bearings.

Major modifications: In spite of my claim that the Vincent is the world’s best touring motorcycle, I have constantly striven to “gild the lily” and to make it more fit for my purpose. Ignoring minor developments like directional indicators, pannier equipment, and high-level LED brake light, the most significant changes have been:
Replaced original upper frame member with earlier stronger one.
Installed Lucas Rita ignition.
Installed a front fairing of my own design with improved lighting and 12-volt alternator.
Fitted temperature sensors fitted to both cylinders with two-way switch and gauge.
Installed disc brakes all round.

About the author:
Stuart Jenkinson served five years in the chemical industry in plastics and pharmaceuticals, 28 years lecturing in chemistry, and has spent 25 years running his own motorcycle touring company.

As It Was Then
By Bruce Main-Smith

Stevenage!  On Britain's Great North Road, the famed A1. A factory in that Hertfordshire town's High Street in an olde-worlde and rambling building (though later newer and better works came with the Harper connection). It was Ted Davies, who most successfully raced a factory sidecar outfit, who told me of the delights of having that famous road on the doorstep. He was letting me drive his Lightning-powered three-wheeler, "114 mph available, Bruce," he said "and the place is the A1."
 
In those halcyon days there was no nationwide 70 mph speed limit. And what car could catch an innocent-looking, matte-alloy three-wheeler, with a barely silenced racing V-twin banging out the horsepower.
 
Ted, the tall and quietly-spoken factory development engineer - who also brought the Picador target-towing engine up to military capability as well as the Vincent lifeboat engine -  dwarfed Managing Director PCV, and it must be said they did not always agree over everything, especially that three-wheeler project of which only one example was built. It was Ted who told me that, using the very same engine in his racing outfit, there was nothing to choose between them in lap times, and whilst his Lightning with Canterbury racing sidecar was at its peak of development he felt that his pet project, the three-wheeler, had good potential still to be realized.
 
It must be said that PCV was rather aloof. I met him often and wondered if he was actually shy. 
 
The factory in those post-war days had many great personalities. Phil Irving (PEI) was the technical wizard, but let not the reader suppose that Philip Conrad Vincent was not also most capable when it came to sliderule and drawing board. Likeable Ted Hampshire, a keen roadster sidecar man, assisted Paul Richardson, the service manager. Paul was Dutch and friendly, respected by all despite his onerous task of sometimes having to bounce a warranty claim.
 
George Brown was the factory's famous solo racer and record breaker. From a Grey Flash in the TT thru to his very famous twin Gunga Din, the abruptly-mannered George not only raced 'em, but he and Bob Brown (no relation) road tested the product to okay it for delivery.  George and his brother Cliff ran a motor cycle shop further along Stevenage High Street. He had a very bad crash at a Eppynt, tiny Welsh circuit, that hospitalized him and left its legacy of facial scars. There is no doubt he was a most courageous rider when it came to manhandling his 998 racer on the track, for he was not a big man.
 
It was pure muscle that enabled London-dealer Jack Surtees to compete successfully with a Vincent outfit, crewed by his lightweight son, John. John served an apprenticeship at Stevenage, and I always recall him with gratitude when, in 1955, he helped me with my twin's clutch in the paddock at London's very own Crystal Palace circuit. Another likeable Vincent H.R.D. man was Jack Williams, who went to be in charge of AMC's race

department when Vincent staff were dispersed at closure. Jack had a spell at the helm of the ill-fated De Havilland motor cycle racing project. How that aircraft manufacturer got talked into bikes is to be attributed to the Austrian Dr. Joseph Ehrlich and his East German EMC split-single two-strokes. 

When I was a staff man for Motor Cycling, I went up to Stevenage to field test (that's politely put) PCV's pet idea of a modular small two-stroke, which first appeared in a rotavator. It didn't catch on, nor did the Amanda water scooter. Both were ahead of their time. Later, Honda grabbed the small-industrial market, and nowadays Mr. Everyman pelts around Europe's inland waters aboard any of the numerous breeds of water scooters.
 
I would sum up PCV as being too much of a visionary, seeing opportunities before the market was ready for his ideas. The Series A twin was bedeviled by its heavy clutch and was dubbed a "Plumber's Nightmare" (I had a 1937 Series A Comet, and concur about oil leaks). The Series B, C, and D had an overly clever servo clutch and far too many bells & whistles. Simplified, the C could have been much cheaper, and it would have sold better. But the Vincent was the most revered of the post-war top-rankers. Right up to the present day, the basic power plant, when substantially breathed upon, hurls sprinters and roadsters alike down the tarmac in a way that will cause the modern Japanese marques to take notice.

About the author:
For 12 years, Bruce Main-Smith was a staff writer for the British magazine Motor Cycling, and was the Road Test Editor at the time of its closure in 1967. He was well-known over the years not only for his road test reports on manufacturer's brand new machines, but also for his track tests of the very best of Britain's racing bikes during the late fifties and the sixties, usually at Silverstone or Brands Hatch. Before joining the magazine, he campaigned his own Vincent H.R.D. sidecar outfit, equipped with a home-brewed swinging-arm rear suspension and his own short top-link in the Girdraulic fork. He was sometimes Chairman, and later a Vice-President, of the Vincent Owners Club. Main-Smith is pictured above on the Sussex South Downs in 1951, with his 1950 Comet.

Philip Conrad Vincent: From One Vincent Owner’s Perspective
By Glenn Shriver

PCV was enamored with motorcycles all of his life. He was an avid rider, and built his first motorcycle while at Cambridge University. On this machine, he developed his ideas for rear suspension and frame design for which he earned his first patent. Later, when he wanted to start manufacturing his own motorcycles, he was advised to buy a well-known “name,” rather than use his own. Discovering that the H.R.D. name was for sale, he acquired it and the Vincent H.R.D. was born. Every motorcycle ever produced by Vincent employed rear wheel suspension, but the general riding public was suspect of such a new concept, in spite of its obvious advantages.

About 1929, Phillip Edward Irving, a young Australian similar in age to PCV, passengered a Vincent H.R.D. sidecar outfit from Australia to England. Becoming familiar with Vincent motorcycles during that experience, PEI interviewed with PCV for a job as chief designer, and was accepted. This was the beginning of a nearly 20-year association with Vincent (as well as Velocette). PCV and PEI made the perfect pair: Vincent had the ideas and Irving made them work. Becoming disappointed with bought-in JAP and Rudge engines, the first Vincent-H.R.D. engine (the 500cc Series A single cylinder) was born in about 1934 or '35. Later, a twin Vincent   H.R.D. Series A engine came about in 1936. After successful tests, it proved to be one of the fastest vehicles on the roads, ergo PCV's brilliant promotional slogan: The Worlds Fastest Standard Motorcycle--This is a Fact, Not a Slogan.

In their spare time throughout World War II, while doing government work, the two Phils dreamed of the perfect motorcycle to build after the war. The subsequent Series B Rapide was so successful that they dropped the single cylinder models until a public outcry convinced them that there was a market for a good 500. Subsequent speed trials around the world proved that their new design was quite successful. The Vincent was the fastest thing on two, three, or four wheels. In spite of this, Vincent suffered from cash flow problems from day one. PCV had always counted on his father, a wealthy English cattle rancher in Argentina, to fund his manufacturing needs, but in those times it was not possible to send large amounts of currency out of Argentina as was hoped. Small amounts of money could be sent from time to time, but the Vincent H.R.D. always suffered from under funding.Financing could not be acquired in England either.

When Vincent was forced to cease manufacturing motorcycles around 1956, their order books were full to overflowing, but they could not obtain the capital to buy the required raw materials or machine tools. Towards the end, they tried an association with the Indian Motocycle Co. in the USA. They built two experimental machines, the "Vindian"- a Rapide engine in a Chief chassis, and a second standard Vincent touring model with American electrics, but both companies were in similar financial predicaments. For awhile, Vincent hung on, making 50cc and 75cc two-stroke industrial engines for lawn mowers, garden cultivators, personal watercraft, clip-on motors for bicycles, and importing smaller NSU motorcycles. But nothing clicked. It was an ignominious end for a once-glorious company.

Being a member of the Vincent H.R.D. Owners Club since I acquired my first Vincent in 1971-a rather tired, used, and abused 1951 Series C Rapide -I became aware of the struggles of PCV through the pages of MPH, the club's excellent monthly periodical. Immediately, one became aware that here was a very intelligent man, retired, but not retiring, still very sharp and witty. PCV seemed rather pleased (and vindicated) that his creations of 20 to 40 years earlier continued to be so revered, and enjoyed by enthusiasts all over the world.

As editor of STOP!, the newsletter of the Chicago Section of the VOC, we sent PCV a lifetime subscription, and he would, from time to time, comment on various points in the periodical. In 1976, the Chicago Section of the VOC invited Mr. Vincent to be our guest of honor at the Annual North American VOC Rally—hosted in Pennsylvania that year by the Northeast USA Section of the VOC. PCV sent his apologies, but due to a motorcycle accident many years prior, he

was unable to fly, and graciously declined. In 1979, while preparing for the International VOC Rally in England that year, we asked a British official of the club, who was knowledgeable of PCV's current health, if he thought PCV would be amenable to our visiting him in London during the Rally. We were told that PCV was not at all well, but somehow he learned of this and wrote to us saying that we would "be shot" if we did not stop in and see him during our visit to England. Regrettably, PCV passed away that spring, prior to the Rally. Freda, his wife, was present at the rally, and we had a very pleasant chat with her. Several days later we found ourselves staying with Vin-friends in Essex, and we rode our Vincents over to Horndon-on-the-Hill to pay our respects at PCV's grave.

PCV was a man who was enthusiastically intense and intensely enthusiastic, absolutely driven by his ideas. He had faith in his ideas and never wavered in his thinking. He had to fight with his board of directors to proceed with the Black Shadow, and ultimately the Black Lightning, which is now totally revered, indeed worshipped by the world's motorcycling cognocenti. PCV’s attitude sometimes cost him friends and often made him enemies, but he knew he was right and Vincent owners have been proving it ever since.

He was a man who was far ahead of his time. He was a pioneer in the use of hydraulically damped suspension, which the two Phils applied with the Girdraulic front fork system. It was remarkably stronger than telescopic forks, and wonderfully smooth, when properly adjusted. When they could not buy a shock absorber to suit their specifications, Vincent invented and manufactured their own. PCV refused to join what he considered a fad to employ telescopic front forks because they were not as strong and their steering geometry was altered on full extension and compression. He pioneered the use of fiberglass when plastics were in their infancy. He was one of the first to use it for major engine enclosures, as in the Series D motorcycles, and in the Amanda personal water scooter.

After the Vincent factory closed, Mr. Vincent operated a small auto garage until his retirement. During his retirement, he worked on developing a new and revolutionary (no pun intended) rotary engine. PCV was indeed a man very much ahead of his time.

About the author:
Glenn Shriver still has his original 1951 Series C Rapide, a “20-year-old crock for which I spent my life’s savings (£225) that I didn’t even know how to start.” Now, 37 years later, he says, “I don’t think of the bike as being as old now as it was then!” Later, he would attach a Steib S501 sidecar to his Rapide and immediately embark on a 6,000-mile trip. In 1976, Shriver acquired a 1936 Series A Comet that was raced at Brooklands when new. He also owns a Vincent Firefly clipped on a British Dunnelt bicycle, and in 2007 built from scratch a stainless steel-framed Vincent-Egli with a 998cc Series B engine, electric start, transistorized ignition, five-speed Quaif gearbox, Mikuni carburetors, double-puck twin-disc front brakes, and an alloy Manx tank. Shriver adds, “Also cluttering the garage is a Vincent Rapier industrial rotary lawnmower.” He has ridden his Vincents in America, Canada, the British Isles (including the Isle of Man), and throughout Europe. Shriver is pictured above with his 1951 Rapide/Steib S501 rig at Carmel, California, in 1980.

It Wasn't Easy
By David Wright

Casually written articles about Philip Vincent can give the impression that he was a young man bank-rolled by his father, who went on to establish and control the affairs of a company that carried his name smoothly into motorcycle history. That was not so, for whilst all businessmen experience setbacks, some of those encountered by Philip Conrad Vincent (PCV) would have persuaded less driven men to search for a more comfortable existence. Read about a few of them here and admire his fortitude.

Persuading his father to provide start-up money, twenty-year old undergraduate PCV purchased the respected name of H.R.D. and formed the Vincent H.R.D. Company Ltd. at Stevenage in mid-1928. Toiling through the summer with a small workforce on the design and manufacture of a range of JAP-powered bikes, by late autumn he had five examples to take to the premier British motorcycle show. Getting bikes to the show was an incredible achievement and the fulfilment of a dream, but the young man then suffered a nightmare blow to his confidence, for at the end of the show he had to admit that he had not sold a single machine nor taken an order for one!

Perhaps absence of sales was due to lack of input from an experienced designer to make the new bikes look right, or maybe it was PCV’s insistence on fitting rear suspension when the feature was not acceptable to the majority of buyers. Whatever the reason, in already depressed economic conditions, sales that eventually came were small, amounting to some 27 in 1929 and 35 in 1930. The backing of a wealthy father should have enabled him to weather the situation, but in 1929 came another hammer blow when, due to imposition of exchange regulations in Argentina where he was in business, Vincent Senior revealed that he could not make further instalments on the £30,000 that he had promised to invest in the new company.

Forced to look elsewhere for finance, PCV was fortunate to receive the support of former university friend Bill Clarke, who persuaded his father to invest in the firm in return for the Chairman’s post for Clarke Senior and a seat on the Board for Bill. But this brought a further setback, because thereafter PCV was never in total control of ‘his’ company and when the Clarke’s money was later replaced by that of merchant banks, he invariably had to play second fiddle to the money men and their appointees. In 1933 he appeared on the company letterhead as just a Director and in advertisements of 1935 he is described as Retail Sales & Advertising Director, not the boss.

Though sales increased during the 1930s, in its best pre-war year of 1937, Vincent H.R.D. sold only 219 motorcycles, before sales fell away as the country slid into conflict in 1939. Hard work for the war effort of 1939-1945 enabled the company to enhance its engineering facilities and the end of hostilities saw it well equipped, but not with the machinery required to produce high quality motorcycles. In post-war Britain the dominant word was shortages, be it of raw materials, machine tools, fuel, power supplies, tyres, batteries, etc. The only thing not in short supply was demand for new motorcycles, but the company was unable to take immediate advantage of it, even though in the Series B Rapide it had a new and exciting model. Nevertheless, PCV did his best to keep publicising the Vincent motorcycle, but taking promotional trips abroad was a risky business as he would return to find that the money men had cancelled orders for machinery or raised prices, all of which was detrimental towards turning the company into a volume producer.

Production did increase in the late 1940s, but a major expansion supposedly brokered by the

British Brockhouse Corporation and involving joint projects with Indian in the USA, went badly wrong and almost put Vincent and Indian out of business. This meant that PCV, as Managing Director, had to work with the Official Receiver (appointed by law) in running the company for the next three years.

Despite the shaky financial position, sales continued to grow and production peaked at 2,800 in 1950. But with a big debt to service the company increased its sub-contract engineering work and also embraced the design of the Picador pilotless aircraft, powered by a modified twin-cylinder engine. This diversification took design effort away from motorcycles, and although still ‘The World’s Fastest Standard Motorcycle,’ black and gold Vincents began to look dated amongst the more colourful products of Triumph, BSA, etc. who also developed larger versions of their twin-cylinder engines and thus narrowed the performance gap to Vincents, whilst being much cheaper.

Belatedly bringing out new models in 1954, the all-enclosed Series D Black Prince and Black Knight saw PCV offer the world his (correct) vision of the motorcycle of the future, only to suffer the pain of rejection by the majority. Introducing naked versions of the ‘D’ was not enough to save motorcycle production at Stevenage and it ceased in 1955, just as its products were breaking world speed records and adding further glory to the Vincent name.

As if the end of production for Vincent motorcycles was not a big enough setback for PCV, there were more to come. The potentially profitable Amanda water-scooter saw money invested to meet a large order, but just as fibre-glass enclosure had been the undoing of the Series D, so faulty fibreglass literally sunk the Amanda when it was found to soften under the sun’s rays in warmer climes. In 1960 PCV left the company he created, only to suffer further blows to his later business activities.

To countless enthusiasts worldwide, Vincent H.R.D. motorcycles are remembered for providing them with some of the greatest riding experiences of their lives, but for the man who designed them, built them, sold them, and devoted his life’s work to them, the production of those world-beating machines did not provide him with an easy ride.

About the author:
David Wright bought his first Vincent in 1960, and has always been keen on the Stevenage marque. He has written three books on Vincents & HRDs, and four books on the Isle of Man TT races. A resident of the Isle of Man, our photograph shows him about to undertake Travelling Marshal duties on his Comet during the TT Re-enactment Run that was held over the original St. John’s TT course on May, 28, 2007.

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