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Originally published in International Motorcycle Magazine, Volume 21, Issue 2



By Steve Bond

Gunga Din legendary Vincent in restored condition In 1947, Vincent built a few motorcycles to go racing and one Series B Rapide was designated as the official factory test mule - to which all experimental high-performance components were bolted on and tested.

In a promising debut, factory rider George Brown raced the new machine at the '47 Isle of Man TT only to run out of gas while leading, setting fastest lap of 86.25 mph around the 37-mile course.

Charlie Markham, Motor Cycling magazine road tester, rode the experimental Vincent and realized that its performance greatly exceeded his own talent and nicknamed it "Gunga Din" after the waterbearer in Rudyard Kipling's poem. As in, "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."

Over the next few seasons Brown won so many hillclimbs, sprints, and short circuit races that the catchphrase of disheartened competitors was, "Gunga Din? Going to win."

In 1952, at Montlhery, France, Gunga Din set several endurance records including six hours averaging 100.53 mph 162 km/h), a very serious speed back then, as well as the Irish land speed record of 143 mph on public roads. By 1955, Vincent motorcycle production stopped. Harper Engines bought Vincent, sold off the assets, and gave the Vincent Owners Club access to whatever was left. They discovered a treasure trove of production records - serial numbers, files, parts drawings, etc.

The Gunga Din Vincent as photographed in 1950 And languishing underneath a pile of sacks in a factory outbuilding they discovered a motorcycle - Gunga Din. The bike sat unsold until an American bought it for $550, parted it out and sold off the various components. By the 1970s, Richard Garret, an American Vincent fanatic had searched for and bought back most of the factory numbered components and engraved 'Experimental' bits as they became available. He eventually sold the treasure trove of all these Gunga Din Factory racing parts to another Vincent collector, Keith Hazelton, who over the next 30 years tracked down everything else of Gunga Din that was missing. Gunga Din remained in pieces until being sold to Paul Pflugfelder of Concord, Massachusetts in April of 2009. As the motorcycle was still just boxes of parts, Pflugfelder commissioned Precision Auto Restoration of Newburyport, Massachusetts to authentically restore Gunga Din to its former glory. They had it ready for the Pebble Beach Concours in August of that year, and although both bikes were judged and scored at 99.5 points each, Gunga Din finished second to George Barber's AJS porcupine - the Holy Grail of vintage motorcycles. Following its debut at Pebble Beach Gunga Din was sold to SUPERSHOW Producer Bar Hodgson who says, "It was only offered to a handful of serious Vincent collectors and I'm proud to say that I now have Gunga Din in my Collection in Canada."

legendary Vincent Motorcycle Gunga Din from right rear view As a nice touch, the restorers left the dent in the top of the special Montlhery endurance racing fuel tank that was on the bike when discovered in the factory outbuilding in 1960.

The bike has the rare Vincent factory prototype Girdraulic front forks, Lucas KVF TT racing magneto, 32mm Amal TT carburetors, original 60 year old Dunlop landspeed record tires, straight through exhaust pipes of 2-inch diameter, many hand-made one-off items and all of the engraved Experimental Factory Racing components, all of the original racing department lightened and drilled components, and the magnesium cast brake plates and other racing items.

After Gunga Din's amazing history of wins amassed over its racing career, followed by its sad demise being dismantled and parted out, it is a true testament of loyalty to Gunga Din by these three dedicated men, Richard Garrett, Keith Hazelton, and Paul Pflugfelder, that the one and only legendary Gunga Din is once again winning top prizes and accolades. Gunga Din has consistently taken Best in Show throughout North America including the second round of the Concours d'Elegance of America at Meadowbrook, the third round of the Concours d'Elegance at Amelia Island, the 2011 International Vincent Owners Club Rally, the Canadian Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and many more. The legend of Gunga Din lives on.

Bar Hodgson and the Gunga Din Vincent
Bar Hodgson and Gunga Din

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