1951 Vincent 1000cc Black Shadow
Lot 294
c.1953/54 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C Frame no. RC11942B Engine no. F10AB/1B/10252
Sold for £35,650 (US$ 59,859) inc. premium
Lot Details
c.1953/54 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C
Registration no. to be advised
Frame no. RC11942B
Engine no. F10AB/1B/10252
Rear frame no. RC11845B
Crankcase mating no. D40V

Introduced in 1946, the Vincent-HRD Series-B Rapide was immediately the fastest production motorcycle on sale anywhere, with a top speed of 110mph. The basic design clearly had even greater potential though, as was demonstrated by the tuned Rapide known as 'Gunga Din', ridden by factory tester George Brown, which proved unbeatable in UK motorcycle racing in the late 1940s. Private owners too had expressed an interest in extracting more performance from their machines, which convinced Philip Vincent that a market existed for a sports version. The prototypes incorporated gas-flowed cylinder heads, Comet cams, polished con-rods and larger carburettors, these changes being good for a maximum output of 55bhp despite a compression ratio limited to only 7.3:1 by the 72-octane petrol that was the best available in the UK at the time. Ribbed brake drums were fitted to cope with the increased performance, while in a marketing masterstroke Vincent specified a 5"-diameter '150mph' speedometer and black-finished engine cases for his new baby – the Black Shadow. With a claimed top speed of 125mph, soon born out by road tests, the Vincent Black Shadow was quite simply the fastest road vehicle of its day.

The Black Shadow presented here has been undergoing restoration since the vendor began accumulating parts for the project in 2000 and is offered fresh from completion earlier this year. Among the first components acquired were the (matching) crankcases, which were purchased from Nigel Brown who had inherited them from his father, Don Brown. Apparently, they had previously formed part of an accident-damaged Shadow and been bought from Jack Surtees' shop by one John Cramer of Welling, Kent. When Mr Cramer died in 1995 his widow sold them to Don Brown. The upper and rear frame members, together with numerous other components, were acquired from Bert Tyrell of Wandsworth, London SE18 while a substantial quantity of other parts came from James Harrison of Blackheath, London SE3 in 2002.

Marque specialist Derek Sayer was commissioned to build the engine and recreate the Black Shadow, while Conway Motors were entrusted with preparing it for sale. The accompanying history file contains detailed records of the work carried out, parts purchased and costs, together with related invoices (inspection recommended) and VOC dating certificate. A Quaife five-speed gear cluster (supplied by Sports Power Ltd of Edenbridge, Kent) was incorporated during the engine/gearbox rebuild. Other noteworthy features include a new BTH magneto, new carburettors, a Dave Hills centre stand, and stainless steel wheel rims/spokes/nipples (the wheels were built by Dick Wheeldon, the VOC's Spares Liaison Officer). The machine is expected to be registered by time of sale, ready for the fortunate new owner to undertake the running in procedure and then enjoy a summer's motorcycling in style.

Saleroom notices

  • The machine has been allocated registration 219 YUU. It also has road fund licence valid until the 31 March 2014.
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  1. Ben Walker
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  2. James Stensel
    Specialist - Motorcycles
    Bonhams
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    United Kingdom
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