Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1947 Vincent-HRD Series B Rapide Special “Gunga Din”

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This 1947 Vincent-HRD Series B Rapide Special, with its 998cc motor, has a special story. Named “Gunga Din”, the bike started out like any other standard Series B Rapide, but was quickly recruited by the factory to showcase new parts, and serve as a publicity test ride bike. The bike also served as the beginning point for bike like the Vincent-HRD Black Shadow and Black Lightning race bikes.

Vincent racer and test rider, George Brown, campaigned this bike in contests, and setting numerous records. On Gunga Din, Brown won more than his fair share of road races, hill climbs, and sprints, the name “Gunga Din” proved to be synonymous with”going to win” and lead one reporter to write: “a name to be feared by the opposition.”

While Vincent Motorcycles went belly-up in 1955, they employed some technology that can still be seen in today’s motorcycles. The Series B Rapide, used quickly detachable wheels, and the rear wheel could be flipped easily. Different size sprockets were also incorporated into the design, as well as adjustable rearsets. Vincent also used a cantilever rear-suspension system, and Brampton girder forks up front.