Special interest

This fascinating, charming and ultra-rare motorcycle comes from the early days of Vincent-HRD manufacture.

Words: James Robinson Photographs: Gary Chapman

When I was a child, I was obsessed with a book called ‘The Vincent HRD Gallery’ by Roy Harper.


I loved that book, mainly as it had pictures of every Vincent and HRD made, and I was in the habit of drawing little pictures of motorbikes (a line around an old 10 pence piece for the wheels normally) and that book was manna from heaven, as it had slab-sided pictures of all the Howard Davies and Phillip Vincent produced machines.

Consequently, I knew my HRD Super 90 from my Vincent-HRD TT Replica and Vincent Series D Victor well before my 10th birthday, and had pretty much replicated every motorcycle in there in my own (tiny) style, later graduating to a set of compasses to draw the wheels, particularly after I realised that post-Second World War Vincents in general had a 20-inch front wheel and a 19-inch rear. Which made the 10p redundant.

High-level exhaust pipes were a 1930s fashion.

So when talking to John Oakes, custodian (more of that later) of this sparkling Model P, and John mentioned the rare model, I knew exactly which he meant.


To an anorak degree. In fact, when I explained how I knew such detail of the Model P, John was curious about ‘The Vincent HRD Gallery’ and reckoned it was probably the only Vincent book he didn’t have; I found a copy on a well known internet auction site, sent the link to John and he replied immediately saying ‘Have bought it!’.

Black-and-gold petrol tank is a thing of beauty, with the centrally-mounted filler an aesthetic delight.

I can’t remember how much it was up for but it certainly wasn’t cheap (£80 rings a bell) but if he gets half as much use out of the copy that still resides on my dad’s bookshelf (though now sans dust cover, that was ruined years ago) it’ll be money well spent.

Another box ticked! A first ride on a proprietary engined Vincent-HRD.

There’s a story, too, as to how John and I started talking. We’ve seen each other and had brief chats at various shows over the last few years, mainly about Vincents (he’s now the keeper of eight, in collaboration with his dad Paul) but then when I started going on in these pages about me buying my Morini, John got in touch to tell me about his Morini.


Read more and view more images in the October 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!


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