Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593

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Lot 250
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike
1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype

Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593

US$ 250,000 - 300,000
£ 190,000 - 230,000
Amended
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike
1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype

Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593

It was to be the Vincent that would move the company boldly into the future, a "two-wheeled Bentley," in the words of Philip Vincent, who considered the design his best work. Its flowing, all-enclosing bodywork would set new standards of refinement, allowing gentlemen riders to commute to work in a business suit, not leathers or waxed cotton. This is the very first Vincent Black Prince, the dressed-up prototype shown to the world at the 1954 Earl's Court show. Ironically, what was to be a breakthrough machine for Vincent Motorcycles turned out to be a prelude to the company's last chapter. A year later, the last-ever Vincent rolled off the Stevenage assembly line.

Herb Harris did not set out to find the first Black Prince. Instead, it found him. He had purchased a small assortment of Vincents from an East Coast collector, among them this machine, thought to be nothing other than a normal production-run Black Prince. During his usual clean-up, inspection and detailing, though, Harris noticed more chromed and polished pieces than is usual for a Black Prince, and the fiberglass bodywork had subtle differences as well. Curious as ever, Harris went to his extensive research library, which among other volumes contains every issue of the Vincent HRD Owners Club magazine MPH. In a 1987 issue, among the remembrances of factory test rider Ted Davis, was his mention that the prototype Black Prince had chassis no. RD 12493 B – the very same number as the bike sitting in Harris' shop! The engine, no. F10AB/2B/10593, also checked out as matching.

Following its Earl's Court debut and the company's demise, the Black Prince made its way to America, sold to a Maryland resident who used the machine as intended over many years, racking up close to 30,000 miles, before selling it on. The second owner had the engine's bottom-end rebuilt by a noted Vincent expert, while a third owner likely had the bodywork repainted, in which condition Harris acquired the bike. Apparently neither of the three previous owners knew of the bike's unique history.

Unfortunately for Vincent – man and company – troubles with the fiberglass supplier delayed Black Prince production, and when the bikes finally arrived the riding public was not even remotely ready for their avant-garde appearance. Just over 100 were built before the factory closed. Today, the very first Black Prince, now wearing its PRI 998 ceremonial Earl's Court license number, starts and runs, and is in very good mechanical condition.

Footnotes

  • Please note that this motorcycle is titled as a 1955 and under its engine number.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the frame number for this motorcycle is RD12493.
Contacts
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
Development machine and Earl's Court showbike,1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype Engine no. F10AB/1B/10593
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