1950 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow
Registration no. LLD 655
Frame no. RC 62746
Engine no. F10/AB/1B/4374
The post-war Vincents bore little resemblance, except in engine size and configuration, to the pre-war machines. Only some names remained. What the Vincent company, namely P C Vincent and Phil Irving, had done, following the return to peacetime working, was to draw a completely new range based, as pre-war, on a standardized design which was produced as both single- and twin-cylinder machines. The first to be listed was the Rapide in 1947, a unit V-twin which would out-accelerate and out-speed anything else available over the counter, an astonishing contrast to most other firms re-hashing of pre-war models. The emollient UK motorcycle press kept this contrast as quiet as they could. The Meteor and Comet followed and were received with acclaim but the loudest gasps were reserved for the Black Shadow, a tuned version of the already all-conquering Rapide. This was a visually startling product, with its keynote black-enamelled crankcases, but it was its towering performance which made hope die in the hearts of the opposition. The public, used to 500cc machines barely able to top 70mph, were now warned not to exceed 105mph in third gear! Finding a road on which to do this was more of a problem in 1950s Britain, the speed, though, making the Shadow much appreciated overseas.
This Shadow was registered on the 21st of July 1950 by Jack Surtees, father of John, for its original owner, and still has the Surtees nameplate on the front guard, itself the correct alloy rather than replacement stainless-steel. It was purchased by its present owner, a well-known Midlands motorcyclist and engineer, in 1984, and was rebuilt from 1986 onwards with an engine overhaul by well-known specialist Tony Maughan, whose opinion it was that the engine had not been taken apart before then. The mechanical work included all of the available upgrades in order to ensure maximum performance and reliability, the crankcases being refinished with eight coats of black two-pack, the electricals overhauled and the carburettors re-sleeved and fitted with K&N filters.
Cosmetically, all of the cycle parts have been reconditioned and stove-enamelled with all fasteners and bright components re-plated or replaced with stainless-steel. The 5 speedometer is a new replacement. The intention has been to provide the thunderous performance of the Black Shadow with as great a degree of reliability as possible, though, as is so often the case, business demands have limited the subsequent use to an appropriate 998 miles since, the Shadow having thus been carefully run-in. LLD 655 will be supplied with all the appropriate bills and paperwork including a letter from John Surtees confirming its initial history, along with a V5C and a current MOT. This lovely Black Shadow is restored to perfection and is ready to be ridden to its new home. This is a chance to own and to ride the Best of British, indeed, perhaps the most visceral and compelling motor cycle ever made.