Paul Zell's Custom Vincent Special
Classic British motorcycle aficionado puts pieces together to form a one-of-a-kind custom Vincent motorcycle
Paul Zell's custom Vincent Special.
Photo by Nick Cedar
2005 Custom Vincent Special
Year produced: 2005
Claimed power: 70bhp @ 6,000rpm
Top speed: 125mph
Engine type: 998cc, two-valve, 50-degree V-twin
Weight: 171kg (380lb) dry
Price: Custom, not for sale
Paul Zell likes classic British motorcycles. And like many aficionados of old British bikes, he believes they can sometimes stand a little improvement. Case in point: his 2005 custom Vincent Special.
Classic Vincent motorcycles are unquestionably among the most charismatic of motorcycles. One of the few road-going British motorcycles that change hands at five-figure prices, they are also one of the few motorcycles from the Forties and Fifties that are comfortable at freeway speeds.
Since the Fifties, Vincents have been a magnet for "specials" builders who craft custom motorcycles with the aim of improving performance and handling. Typically, the specials builder shoehorns a hot engine into a light, good-handling chassis, and upgrades the suspension and brakes.
Paul Zell built his custom Vincent motorcycle in this tradition. With a unique combination of imagination, ingenuity and mechanical smarts, Zell builds custom motorcycles that draw small crowds — previous projects have included a streamlined sidecar with clamps for a folding wheelchair and a Velocette with an electric starter. He has just finished this custom Vincent special.
"The standard Vincent is nice for a touring machine," Zell explains. "The brakes and suspension could be improved for sport riding. I wanted a more aggressive chassis."
Ironically, the Vincent-HRD Co., Ltd., manufacturer of the Vincent, was started because Philip Vincent was disappointed in the suspension and brakes of the available two-wheelers, and wanted something better.
The son of a wealthy Argentinean, Vincent’s enthusiasm for motorcycles took root at an early age. In the 1920s, while at college in England, he designed a frame with rear suspension. After he graduated, he persuaded his father to come up with financial backing, and in 1928 he purchased the then-defunct HRD motorcycle company. HRD are the initials of Harold R. Davies, a famous racer of the Twenties whose motorcycle factory went into the red due to excessive entertainment expenses.
The reformed Vincent-HRD company got off to a slow start, however. The British motorcycling public thought Vincent's frame was ugly and sales lagged. But things started looking up when Jack Gill rode around the world on a Vincent-HRD sidecar combo and, more importantly for Vincent’s future, returned to England in 1930 with Phil Irving.
Page: 1 | 2
| Next >>