The Rare Vincati

Vincent, Ducati and shadetree mechanic Don Henderson unite to customize an original superbike.

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by Phil Aynsley

The 1970’s bred a worldwide generation of “shadetree machanics.” These were people with the self-taught skills of certified mechanics and engineers who undertook hobby projects in their basic backyard workshops.

Some of their often crazy ideas worked: fitting a Volkswagen engine into a motorcycle frame; slotting a 427 Cobra Jet V8 engine into a 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon to make the ultimate “street sleeper” — and let’s not even talk about the craziness of Unlimited class hydroplane racers using aircraft engines.

close up clean silver engine

Many of these shade tree mechanics created their own little subculture. In Australia one tiny niche of the customizing scene saw at least five Vincatis built. This is the second of them. An unlikely marriage of a bevel-drive Ducati V-twin’s frame and a 1,000cc Vincent engine, the professionalism of the build is amazing. The execution is so precise it could almost have come from a major motorcycle factory, not an enthusiast’s workshop.

Looking back more than 40 years it seems sacrilege to mess with a Ducati and a Vincent in this way. Both now command among the highest prices at classic auctions if they are in original condition. But times were very different back in the 1970s.

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
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