The Series A is one of the rarest things that you can own in the Vincent world. It is therefore pricey and each time one turns up on auction, it smashes all estimates. But the point is that even if you have a deep pockets, you must wait and hope for years before being able to get one between yours hands.

The other way to get around that fact is to build it yourself. Yes, that sounds crazy but not completely if you think that reverse engineering can solve that kind of problems. Nevertheless, it is not simple nor is it free, when you consider the amount of experience, time and money that you will have to invest in such project. François Grosset is now the third Vincent enthusiast to take on that challenge with success, but it has taken him five complete years to put together this first machine, which is also the first of a limited edition of five that he is going to build in his workshop.

I know François for nearly 30 years and I always saw him restoring Vincents, Eglis, Velocettes, machining parts when those did not exist or when their quality was not satisfactory, not to mention designing and manufacturing two models of electric-starters and electronic ignition for the Vincent twin. So, when he told me in 2014 that he had started that project, I had no doubt that he would not only do it but that the result could only be outstanding!

“…I did not want to reinvent the wheel, so I leveraged the parts available for Series A to focus on those that were either not remanufactured or that were sold for the price of gold due to their rarity. The challenge was in fact to make all the key and specific parts to this model, thus I had to remake all tooling and patterns for the engine casing, cylinders and heads, and also all small casting elements that are integrated in the fabrication of the frame, swing-arm and the Brampton fork as per the original design. However, to save time, this first bike uses cylinder heads from Conway,” says François who concludes: “…this was a terrific project to which I would like to associate my son Samuel who has made all the CAD drawings and my friend Trevor Southwell who was an invaluable resource when my tooling or my experience reached their respective limits.”. Well, I let you look at this astounding result and authentic re-creation made in Brittany, France!

Philippe Guyony © 2019

The pre-war 1000 Rapide is the very start of the twin venture for Vincent. Only 78 were made before the world war II outbreak. The base was the 500 Comet—whose top-end can be recognized—assembled together with a completely new bottom-end in a frame with a slightly longer base than for the Comet. But when the war ended, Vincent and Irving had already designed a unit-bloc from a clean sheet of paper that will be used in the Series B and later C and D. (Photo © Francois Grosset)
The challenge was to remanufacture all the key parts specific to the Series A model including tooling and patterns for the engine casing, cylinders, heads, and all small casting elements that are integrated in the fabrication of the frame, swingarm and the Brampton fork as per the original design. A 1937 Rapide—ex- Bob Stafford—was used as a benchmarked for this reverse engineering exercise. (Photo © Francois Grosset)
François Grosset and his home-made Series A on the corner of the fireplace. “I asked about 30 years plus ago to get my Vincent in my home, the answer was at that time that it will be OK when it will be a Series A. So…voila!” I guess François deserves his cup of tea for this priceless moment. Not that the bike has just completed its first 150 miles. (Photo © François Grosset)
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