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Community Portrait

Molloy keeps a stable of rare and frisky Vincents

By: Michael Kirby
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There it is — a 1952 Vincent Touring Rapide leaning against a telephone pole on Main Street in downtown Colfax on a recent Saturday morning. Looking like something out of a movie, a vintage rough and tumble motorcycle goes seemingly unnoticed on a quiet small town corner — restored to life in expert detail, but looking used like the daily driver that it is. Ready for a weekend ride is one of Dave Molloy’s restored Vincents. The Colfax area resident moved out of the Bay Area to the foothills in 1997 upon retirement as an engineer with IBM. Molloy has a stable of very special motorcycles that he has been painstakingly restoring since 1971. “I was already a motorcycle guy and had several other British bikes, and a friend suggested that I take a look at one that was for sale,” Molloy said. Molloy fell for the Vincent and it’s been a passion ever since. The Vincents are British motorcycles and only 12,000 of the eye-catching bikes were manufactured from 1928 through 1955. Of those 12,000, about 1,000 were made before WWII, and the other approximately 11,000 were made after the war. About 1,500 Vincents found their way to North America. “It’s hard to guess how many remain but I always say about 7,500 worldwide still exist,” Molloy said. “About 75 Vincents are still here in Northern California.” Molloy owns four Vincents, each one restored, and he also owns one BSA, another brand of British motorcycle. One of Molloy’s Vincents is a rare and high-performance model called the Black Shadow which was the souped-up sports version. The styling of a Vincent suggests a different look than a Harley Davidson or a Japanese motorcycle so commonly seen today. In its day the Vincent was the fastest motorcycle to roll off the assembly line. “The 1936 stock bike could do 110 mph and the 1948 Black Shadow could do 125 mph stock,” Molloy said. Molloy is a member of the Vincent-H.R.D. Owners Club and is president of the Northern California Chapter. To attend regional and national club events, Molloy has ridden one of his Vincents as far as British Columbia. Molloy has put 123,000 miles on the 1952 Touring Rapide after restoring the bike he purchased in 1986. The motorcycle was made for touring and is also the bike Molloy rides on his long hauls and daily jaunts throughout the foothills. The Vincents are durable with the 1952 having nearly 175,000 total miles on it. “It probably had 50,000-60,000 miles on it when I got it,” he said. The Vincents are eye catching and as we talked in front of Molloy’s bike, people passing by couldn’t help notice its sleek appearance and comment on how beautiful the motorcycle looks. Molloy is a fixture in downtown Colfax, usually having coffee with friends or attending the local vintage car club events, towing his bikes in his 1949 Ford pick-up. Molloy also volunteers his time to help the Friends of the Colfax Library and Colfax Pride by playing Santa Claus for hours, greeting hundreds of children in his red Santa suit at the Colfax Christmas events each year.