The 1000 Vincent was the first Superbike with unapproachable performances until the early 70s. Then you know the story: everything was going to change within a few years. Everything? Not exactly, as for Vincent purists the Vincent is simply timeless and remains the ultimate road motorcycle, and thus it does not make sense to compare it to any other motorcycle. However, against modern benchmark, the contrast between this incredible engine and the aging chassis became source of inspiration for a few other.
If a few Engineers like Fritz Egli started from a blank page, many workshops tried the hybridization process, which is theoretically a quicker way to achieve the desired result. On that perspective, the Norton Manx was the way to go in the fifties and sixties. However, during the two following decades, the only decent choice would have been the Italian school simply because Italian bikes offered the best handling and components available at that time. Aren’t you already thinking about a Duke-Vin?
In fact, first Vincati was reported by the Australian Motorcycle Action in October 1975, and it was put together by Max Johnson. In 1972, Johnson was looking for a Vincent but first found a Vincent engine installed in a racing car. He acquired it and started his quest for frame parts, which was nearly an impossible mission in those early seventies. The idea of the Vincati simply came as he was assisting a friend in repairing his Ducati 750. He assessed that the Vincent Twin would fit quite well in this chassis and that it would also be a much easier to find a wrecked bike on the market.
After about three years of intensive work including the mock-up, rebuilding the engine and finally assemble the bike. The Vincati was ready and made its first apparition during one of the VOC outing. Phil Irving, co-designer of the Vincent, was there and made the following comment ‘It almost looks as if it grew there.’ reported AMA, which also commented that ‘Phil Irving was not partial to the many variations and hybrids of the traditional Vincent, these faint words of praise indicate he was not unpleased with the Max Johnson version.’
Philippe Guyony © 2013
I’d like to thank you as well Martyn, the editor of the Oz Vincent Review, who helped me to put this story in the right way.
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Australia Motorcycle Action October 1975