America’s Oldest Vincent: 1932 Vincent HRD Python Sports 500

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1932 Vincent HRD Python Sports 500
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The engine is fed by a single bronze-bodied remote float, horizontal slide 1-1/8-inch Amal carburetor.
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1932 Vincent HRD Python Sports 500
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The engine is fed by a single bronze-bodied remote float, horizontal slide 1-1/8-inch Amal carburetor.
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1932 Vincent HRD Python Sports 500
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1932 Vincent HRD Python Sports 500
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The cylinder head of the Python Sports is cast in aluminum-bronze for better heat dissipation.
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The cylinder head of the Python Sports is cast in aluminum-bronze for better heat dissipation.
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Owner George Brown is aware of only two other Python Sports. The restoration of Brown's bike took just more than 10 years.
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Owner George Brown is aware of only two other Python Sports. The restoration of Brown's bike took just more than 10 years.
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Herb Harris and the Rollie Free "Bathing Suit Bike" at the Legend of the Motorcycle show in 2007.
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1932 Vincent HRD Python Sports 500
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The British Thomson-Houston Company headlight was found on eBay in Austria after 2.5 years of searching.

1932 Vincent HRD Python Sports
Claimed power: 30hp
Top speed: 85-90mph (claimed)
Engine: 499cc air-cooled 4-valve OHV single, 85mm x 88mm bore and stroke, 6.8:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 310lb (141kg)
Fuel capacity: 2.75gal (10.4ltr)
Price then/now: £60 ($210)/$100,000-$125,000

In the early days of the British motorcycle industry, it was common for small manufacturers to use “bought in” engines. Norton’s first TT winner of 1907 was powered by a Peugeot engine, and Royal Enfield started out with engines from Swiss manufacturer Motosacoche. The most popular proprietary 4-stroke engine of the 1920s by far was made by the Tottenham, London, firm of John Prestwich & Co, sold under the brand name “JAP.”

Hoping to capitalize on this market, in September 1930 the Rudge-Whitworth Company announced that it would make its 4-valve engines — including the race-derived bronze head models — available to bike makers under the brand name Python. One of their first customers was the fledgling Vincent HRD Company.

Rudge

During the 1870s, the licensee of the Tiger’s Head pub in Wolverhampton, near Birmingham in Britain’s industrial West Midlands, was one Daniel Rudge. A keen cyclist and innovator, Rudge’s key invention (British Patent no. 520) was the adjustable ball-bearing wheel hub, which rendered obsolete the plain bushings used to that date. It improved performance so much that racers using Rudge wheels had to start 10 yards back! After Rudge died in 1880, his company eventually merged with Charles Pugh’s Whitworth Cycle Company. Rudge-Whitworth was soon the most successful bike builder in Britain, building 75,000 bicycles in 1906 alone.

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