Paul Zell's Custom Vincent Special
(Page 3 of 4)
Today, the value of Vincents continues to skyrocket, and owners continue to ride their bikes. Parts are readily available and Vincent club membership remains strong.
The Custom Vincent Breakfast Special
Zell got into Vincent motorcycles by accident. He was riding a Harley and a Honda when he started going on Saturday breakfast runs with a group of British motorcycle riders. After enduring weeks of kidding about his choice of ride, Zell decided to buy a BSA. He followed up on an ad in the paper, but learned that the bike for sale was a competition model, with no lights. "But," said the owner, "I also have a Vincent in pieces I would like to sell."
Zell had little idea at the time what a Vincent was, but when he casually mentioned the bike to his Saturday morning friends, "The next thing I knew, I was in a truck, and eight guys were driving top speed" to the seller's house. Paul struck a deal for the bike, and spent the next two years putting the Vincent back together. He still owns the bike, which is now hitched to his hand-built sidecar.
The idea of the Vincent special was sparked when Zell learned that Vincent racer, record-setter and former dealer Marty Dickerson was selling a pair of Series C engine cases. At the same time, a used crankshaft, connecting rods and a British-built, Egli-style frame became available from the Vincent Owner's Club.
"I just started buying pieces," Zell says, including a set of Ceriani front forks from ex-racer John Burkhart, Borrani wheels, huge Grimeca drum brakes and a pair of 36mm Dell'Orto pumper carburetors. "You see Italian aftermarket parts on a lot of specials," Zell says. "I used photos of other bikes I liked as inspiration for this project. A lot of them were Italian. With all the Italian parts, you could say this bike is half-Italian."
With a garage full of parts on hand, Zell started building his bike. The engine was built up with 9:1 Specialoid pistons, cylinders and heads from American Vincent Club stalwart Dave Malloy, and a Harley-Davidson primary belt and clutch. The transmission is a five-speed Quaife, used in many vintage racers. "It costs the same as the stock four-speed box," Zell says.
Zell learns a new skill every time he starts on a project; previous projects have served as vehicles to learn bottom-end balancing and upholstery. The Vincent gave Zell the excuse to learn even more: "I ended up learning TIG welding, so I could fabricate the bodywork. I bought an English wheel to roll the aluminum sheet for the tank and seat, and learned to use it last winter."