This 100-point 1952 Vincent Rapide has been raising hell on the show circuit

Courtesy Gene Brown

When I was a boy, my dad taught me to ride a Honda 250 Dream on our alfalfa farm in Colorado. I’ve been a bike guy ever since.

In 2002, I started to collect show bikes, and I got into Vincents. In succession, I owned a Black Shadow, a Black Lightning, and a Python Sport. Then came “Hellboy,” my 1952 Rapide.

It was built on February 25, 1952, and it sold new shortly after for $1250, the cost of a Cadillac back then. Most Vincents were black; some were red, a few were gray, but factory records show that mine is one of about 30 produced in black and red. Its ownership trail is vague, but I do know that it spent more than 30 years in pieces under a tarp on a porch in Atlanta, waiting on a restoration that never came.

1952 Vincent Rapide and owner at bike show
Courtesy Gene Brown

I bought it in 2011 as a pile. The whole bike had been hand-painted orange to preserve it against southern humidity, but the 998cc engine, upper and lower frames, and the crankcases were all matching numbers. I immediately shipped it to Herb Harris of Harris Vincent in Austin, Texas, for what became a 3 1/2-year restoration. Every original bit on the bike except the clutch lever was salvageable and put back into service.

1952 Vincent Rapide show winner ribbon
Courtesy Gene Brown

I began showing the Rapide in 2014, first at the Keeneland Concours in Kentucky, where it won Best Bike. It has since collected more than 17 best-in-class or best-in-show awards around the country. In 2015, at the Morgan Adams Concours in Denver, my Vincent beat out 112 cars, 37 airplanes, and 50 other motorcycles to claim Best of Show. Two Duesenberg owners on hand were not pleased. The greatest honor came in February 2018, when the Antique Motorcycle Club of America designated it a 100-point motorcycle—a process that requires consensus from five judges.

It’s not all show, however. I ride Hellboy a few times a week, and it turns heads everywhere we go.


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