The Engine number obey to the following sequence : L1 #1 L2 L3 Slash #2 L4 Slash #4, (e.g. F10AB/1A/10000) where:

  • L1 is either “F” as 4-stroke or T” as 2-stroke
  • #1 is the displacement in 100cc increment:
    • 10″ meaning 1000cc,
    • 5″ meaning 500cc.
    • 0.5″ was used for the mopeds of 50cc (in conjunction with letter T)
  • L2 is the crankcase material:
    • “A” stands for aluminum alloy,
    • “M” for magnesium alloy.
  • L3 is the purpose of the engine.
    • “B” (bicycle) stands for motorcycle,
    • “C” for cars,
    • “M” for marine,
    • “U for utility.
  • #3 and L4 combined tells the casing type.
    • “1” being the 1000 Rapide Series B (sand casting), this digit was also used for the Rapide Series C.
    • “2” then came the 500 Meteor Series B. 
    • This is when it becomes complicated as the nomenclature was not through for the subsequent introduction of other models. 
      • First comes the “hot” Rapides that were identified with a “1A” combination (anectdotally it will be reused later for the White Shadows once the Black Shadow was officially introduced).
      • The Black Shadow were identified as “1B
      • Then the Black Lightning as “1C
      • When the Comet came, it used “2A
      • And logically the Grey Flash was identified as “2B
      • Another complex step involves the release of the Series D whose Die-Cast casing were different:
        • “2” for the Rapide or Black Knight, which can be confusing with the “2” of the Meteor (but the Meteor was a F5AB/)
        • “2B” for the Black Shadow or Black Prince, again it can be confusing with the “2B” of the Grey Flash (but the Flash was a F5AB/)
        • “3A” for the Comet or Victor.
      • Apparently some “3” casing were sold by Harper, and some “4” crankcases by Holder. Today new engines are identified by “5”.Engine number ends at #11134 as far as the original factory engines are concerned.

The frames were stamped on two distinct locations because the Vincent frames are made of two parts. The UFM (Upper Frame Member) and the RFM (Rear Frame Member), and the coding obeys to the following sequence: L1 (L2) # (L3) – (e.g. RC8500B). All machines left the factory with identical VIN (front and back) in relation to the engine, and those are referred as “matching number” (on left-front of the steering head and on the left-hand rear lug).

  • L1: is an “R” and used on all post-WWII machine. When alone it stands for Series B.
  • L2: could be either “C” as Series C (so RC) or “D” as Series D (so RD).
  • # is the serial number.
  • L3 identifies  the model and is optional:
    • “B” as Black Shadow,
    • “F” as Black Knight,
    • “B/F” as Black Prince
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