1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C
Lot 104
1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C
£80,000 - 120,000
US$ 110,000 - 160,000

Lot Details
1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C
1949 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series C
Registration no. DBN 998
Frame no. RC4240B
Engine no. F10AB/1B/2340


Rear frame no. RC4240B
Crankcase mating no. W57

• Matching main/rear frame and engine numbers
• Restored to 1949 Earls Court Motorcycle Show specification
• Only 96 dry miles since completion in 2016
• Concours condition
• Offered from a private collection

The outbreak of WW2 in 1939 had brought production of all Series A models to a halt, and when Vincent-HRD resumed production at the war's end it was with the all-new Series B. Its rear suspension aside, the Series A Vincent-HRD had been conventional enough: tubular steel frame, girder forks, separate gearbox, etc but with the Series B, Philip Vincent and Chief Engineer Phil Irving effectively established the marque's reputation for the defiance of convention in the pursuit of engineering excellence. For a start there was no 'frame' as such, merely a fabricated box attached to the cylinder heads, that served as the oil tank and incorporated the headstock and the attachment point for the rear springs. The gearbox was integral with the engine, and the swinging arm pivoted directly in the engine/gearbox casings, features commonplace today but unusual 60 years ago. Only in his retention of the pre-war Brampton girder fork did Phillip Vincent appear to be lagging behind other manufacturers, almost all of which had switched to telescopics, but this apparent shortcoming would soon be addressed by the introduction of the famous 'Girdraulic' fork.

When it was introduced in 1946, the 1,000cc 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, all of which convinced Philip Vincent that a market existed for a sports version. Despite opposition from within the company's higher management, Vincent pressed ahead with his plans and together with Irving, clandestinely assembled a brace of tuned Rapides.

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.

Deliveries commenced in the spring of 1948 and only around 70-or-so Series B Black Shadows had been made before the Series C's public debut at that year's Earl's Court Motorcycle Show. The most significant changes made concerned the suspension, there being a revised arrangement at the rear incorporating curved lugs for the seat stays and an hydraulic damper between the spring boxes, while at the front the new models boasted Vincent's own 'Girdraulic' fork: a blade-type girder fitted with twin hydraulic dampers. These advances began to find their way onto production models during 1948, but it would be 1950 before all Vincents left the factory in Series C specification, by which time references to 'HRD' were being phased out. Only 42 'Vincent-HRD' branded Series C Black Shadows are known to the Vincent Owners Club compared with 70 known Series Bs.

The Black Shadow was indeed a legend in its own lifetime, and in the half-century since production ceased, the esteem in which this iconic motorcycle is held has only increased, fuelling the demand among discerning collectors for fine examples of the marque, such as that offered here.

A matching-numbers example, this Series-C Black Shadow was purchased by the vendor, a former treasurer of the VOC, in November 2004 from Mr Raymond Ross Lann of Nairn on Scotland's east coast. 'DBN 998' was off the road when Mr Lann had purchased it in January 1974. He explained that the Vincent had been owned by a lighthouse keeper on the west coast of Scotland. When purchased, the machine was already in need of a complete rebuild but Mr Lann never got around to it. The Shadow remained barn stored for a further 30 years until the vendor heard about this 'sleeping beauty' and purchased it from Mr Lann (receipt on file).

However, it was not until 2016 that Andrew Kenningley of Southport was commissioned to carry out a high quality restoration to 1949 Earls Court London Motorcycle Show specification. The latter included stainless steel and chromium plating for parts normally cadmium plated, as well as stainless fastenings. The compression ratio on standard-size bores has been raised to 8.5:1 to improve performance, and the engine is reported to be an easy starter. In addition, a Dave Hills centre stand and V2 clutch have been fitted to make the Shadow more user-friendly. The vendor took delivery of the fully restored 'DBN 998' on the 3rd February 2017 and has covered a mere 96 dry 'shakedown' miles on the Vincent to ensure that everything is in working order. Accompanying paperwork consists of a copy of the Works Order Form, a VOC Dating Certificate, sundry restoration invoices, an old-style continuation logbook, and old/current V5/V5C registration documents.

Footnotes

  • As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
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