Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Regarding my earlier post showing the interior of the Vincent factory at Stevenage ca 1948, Somer Hooker emailed with an 'aha'; the very first production Vincent Black Shadow shown being assembled in the photo is in fact sitting in his garage! Nice to have an update of the 'where is it now' variety.

Somer writes; "Now I know why I saved Bowen's picture. I own the 1st Shadow!...If you look in the Vincent owner's manual it states Black Shadow production commencing with F10AB/1B/696. That's mine! The bike was shipped to Canada, wrecked, and almost turned into a Norvin. It was 60 years old April 14th."

Top photo shows the machine at the Legends concours in 2007 - it must have been taken early in the morning, with those long shadows and no other bikes around (except the Ewoks in the background). Second photo shows the bike at home, sorely in need of some air in the rear tire; pump it up and ride it, Somer, it's a beauty.

The first prototype Black Shadow was famously 'JRO 102' (English reg.), which still exists, and has engine # F10AB/1B/558 in frame R2549, and was completed on Feb. 16, 1948. During road tests, Charles Markham of Motor Cycling managed 122mph, a little shy of the claimed 125mph maximum, but other testers hit 128mph.

Notable features about the early Series B Shadows; the Brampton girder forks rather than the forged-aluminum blades ('Girdraulic' forks) of the more common Series C Shadows, and the deep pressed-steel case for their 150mph speedometer. The speedo face is different as well, being marked in '10mph' increments rather than the cleaner '20mph' stages on the later speedo with the curved back. The earlier item is chunky (as can be seen in the top pic), but very rare indeed.

Bottom pic is the 'birth photo' of Somer's bike, 60 years ago last month, shown in my earlier post. Through the blog, he's now connected with the son of the fellow shown assembling his motorcycle; such is the power of the internet to shrink the world.


www.oldbikenews.com said...

A friend is rebuilding my 1957 Triumph 110. Why did I decide on him to rebuild the bike? I figured someone that owns and maintains his own Black Shadow could be trusted with my bike. Whenever I go over to his place, I just stand in awe of the Vincent. Read more stories on old bikes at www.oldbikenews.com

Anonymous said...

You spoke of charles Markham reaching 122 mph on you blog that I found on google. He is my great grandpa I have the original pictures and have a few on my phone of him. Thank you for mentioning him, I have enjoyed little snippits in multiple articles about him. I wish I had met him!