1951 Vincent Black Shadow
Year of manufacture1951
Guide price: ??55000 - ??65000.
- The Vincent Black Shadow Series 'C'. Simply a legend
- At some point in its life, this bike was fitted with 1949 1000cc HRD engine to full Black Shadow spec
- Superbly restored by Marque Guru, Andrew Kenningley of Southport using original parts
- Over 500 hours went into the restoration by Vincent Motorcycles (Certificate and invoice to show)
- Totally restored; frame & suspension, cycle parts, paintwork, engine, transmission & gearbox, and electrical equipment
- Kept by our vendor in his lounge. Started regularly but never used on the road. Will need 'running-in'
- This is a rare and valuable motorcycle in top form and we welcome any inspection
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 50 years since production ceased, the esteem in which this amazing motorcycle is held has only increased, fuelling the demand among discerning collectors for fine examples of the marque, such as that offered here. Amongst knowledgeable Vincent enthusiasts, the name of Andrew Kenningley from Southport is held in reverence. It was he who was responsible for the restoration of the 1949 Vincent Black Shadow Series 'C' that achieved the remarkable sum of £119,100 (inc. premium) at a major auction around 18 months ago. Pleasingly Andrew was also responsible for, and indeed was the former keeper of, the 1951 Black Shadow we are privileged to offer today.The National Database of Classic Vehicles (NDCV) has confirmed that this Black Shadow dates from 1951 and the Certificate of Authenticity from Vincent Motorcycles Ltd clarifies that frame number RC9055B has been fitted with a 1949 HRD 998cc engine. Also with the bike, there is a Vincent Motorcycles 'repair order card' showing that the motorcycle was rebuilt to a 'show standard' using all original panels, 512 hours were logged on the restoration, and that the work was completed on 04/04/16. Every aspect of this Vincents return to the top level has come under the scrutiny of Andrew and his brother and the results speak for themselves.Our vendor purchased the completely restored machine in 2016 and, apparently, it has remained in his lounge ever since. He starts it occasionally but it has never been on the road so will require 'running-in' and detailed instructions are with the bike. Totally restored to a show winning standard with zero miles since, this is a 'Best-of-Breed' Black Shadow and, we imagine, anyone seriously interested in owning it will naturally be keen on a full and detailed inspection. We look forward to meeting you.