1955 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series D
Registration no. TAL 53
Frame no. RD12826B
Engine no. F10AB/2B/10926
From its inception in 1946, Philip Vincent iconic v-twin underwent almost continuous modification in production. The Series B was refined, rather than modified, into the Series C, the most commonly encountered version. However, this machine had some long-lasting detail problems, notably the paradox of a machine with rear-springing having an un-sprung dual seat. Also, the C, owing to the uneven firing intervals, could be a temperamental starter if the magnetos good spark happened to be on the wrong stroke.
Vincents restless mind led him, even as the factory drifted into difficulties, to pen the Series D underneath, perhaps the machine that should have been made from the first. Underneath because many Series D machines were, in fact, enclosed in scooter-like glassfibre fairing that were, to most riders, like Marmite, always loved or hated.
Difficulties with fairing production, quality and fit led to the unenclosed Series D. Here, the fitful and expensive magneto had been replaced with reliable, easy-starting coil ignition and the rear-end given a sub-frame to carry the comfortable dual-seat, a better toolbox and an oil-tank, cutting the complexity of the Series C upper-frame member. Again, opinion was divided. Though most Series D riders thought the improvements worthwhile, many armchair experts did not. One who did was the sole owner of TAL 53. Ordered from Henstocks for £3574s1d, the D was delivered on 26th June 1955. Fitted with its wheel tommy-bars and rear-chain adjusters by the factory at extra cost, the purchase price (about £6,200 in modern money) represented, says the owner, My old bike, all of my savings and all of my income for a long time to come.
Following that momentous purchase, the Series D simply remained with the original owner. Few of us keep a motorcycle for ten years, let alone fifty, but with this motorcycle, the new owner found everything he wanted or would want in a machine. Beautifully maintained and carefully ridden, TAL 53 has carried its owner for only around 1000 miles per year, 58,000 in total since new, making it one of the least-abused Vincents known. In 1995, as the miles covered grew fewer, the decision was taken for the machine to be reconditioned, the job being given to Tony Maughan, the experts expert, of Lincolnshire. Since then, as the MOTs confirm, TAL 53 has been in semi-retirement, though always kept on the road and maintained in gleaming condition by Maughans. Because of the owners advancing years, the decision to sell has, most regretfully, been made. Complete with V5C, the original bill of sale, the original Vincent toolkit (less one spanner which broke in the 1960s), this superb, quiet-running Vincent, unique in having one owner, is ready for only its second rider.