Mark Reynolds of Stedham, West Sussex, UK, sent me photos and details of his Vincent, whose history is somewhat representative of the transformation process from a stock Vincent to a racing special in the early 1970s. Mark got the chance to acquire his bike in 1968 from a Mr. Dunn of Headley Down, Hants: it was just a ‘basket case’, but a Rapide for £120 is rather a ‘dream case’ when you just turned 16! The VOC archives confirmed that the bike left the factory on March 26, 1952 with the UK registration HWM 230 for Reynolds of Liverpool—the local Vincent dealer—and his last owner was indeed Mr. Dunn, a VOC member since 1964.
“I finished the restoration in 1969 and enjoyed my stock Vincent for many miles, but in 1970, I crashed it after a mighty tank slapper” says Mark; “…after having seen the Shadow 70 at the NEC at Birmingham, I contacted Roger Slater who sold me a complete chassis”. RS/C/116 is indeed a very early Shadow 70, the 16th of the first batch, between the Egli licensing period and the latest Slater coded VIN***. The ‘Egli’ was completed late spring 1971 and got its new registration GPF 78J.
For this first summer, Mark rode to Spain and back with no major hitch and then used it regularly on the road until 1973, when he decided to convert it as a racer. “I wanted a close-ratio Manx gearbox so I swapped my original cases a first time for some totally chopped, and made up aluminum plates etc. This first try was not a very pretty affair with a messy primary chain case arrangement, …but as such I entered a few races per year, mostly Cadwell Park, testing untried modifications with of course inconsistent results. I always considered myself as a novice but I succeeded to receive my first simple club trophy in 1975”.
That year Mark also crashed badly at Cadwell Park, and as he was not satisfied with the stiffness of the chopped cases matted to the Manx gearbox, Mark says “…I looked for new cases and found a set that I swapped against mine. I milled away the gearbox retaining the primary chain case ‘loop’ welding plate and gussets as necessary. It was a much more handsome arrangement still looking like a Vincent on the drive side.”
These new crankcases coded F10AB/1/2977 came from a 1949 Series C Rapide that went to Garreau of Paris on October 25, 1949 and a 88x86mm super-square configuration (1046cc) replaced the stock 84x90mm (998cc). To complete the built, Mark installed a 42mm belt and designed the spacing to run an alternator in lieu of the dynamo. Then the front-end was also replaced by a twin-disk and fork from Morini and a Works Norton replica fairing was then added.
The bike was ready in 1987 and in this final configuration Mark christened it Epsilon with an “E” as Egli but also as the Series E that never happened. “During all this transformations steps, Ian Hamilton was my virtual mentor. The bike went pretty well as trophies prove and was just short of Ian Hamilton’s bike at Cadwell on the straight. I think I was usually ahead of Phil Todd on his Laverda and occasionally Roy Robertson who was then running with the 998cc capacity.”
Mark continued to race intermittently until 1989, when a con-rod dropped big time and threw Mark off at the hairpin at Brands Hatch “…oil down the racing line and John Surtees and others out in the next race on far more exotic machinery. I was not popular!”. The ‘Egli’ being wrecked, “life conspired to halt work on the bike, I took up flying, did my float plane rating and then I spent a lot of time in India and Pakistan with an old R75/5 continuing his trip toward China.”
30 years later the bits and parts are screwed back together… “It is a good machine and I am hoping that maybe I could find a sponsor and get a younger rider to take it out. I will most certainly take it round Cadwell again and my dream would be to get it at the Goodwood Revival but the cut off date just precludes Eglis which is very sad.”
The engine still has its short stroke but with larger 90mm pistons now displacing 1094cc. It has tons of premium parts such as Grey Flash valves, Manx pistons, revised Cosworth cams, polished and DLC coated rockers and cam followers, Smith USA chrome moly pushrod all screwed together with titanium hardware. 325lb on the scale! It is likely to be one of the lighter Vincent twin.
Philippe Guyony © 2017-12-30