Saturday, December 12, 2009


When you've been looking for a good Vincent Black Shadow for a while, you realize: 1. they're fairly common, 2. they're expensive, 3. most of them are lousy, 4. when you find the One You Want, grab on with your teeth and don't let go until you've done a deal.

So it was with this machine and its new owners... when ebay and various dealers failed to produce a machine which 'felt right', it took the Old Boy Network, and many months of persistence, softening up, and raising the ante, to view a '52 Black Shadow. It has matching #s, and had been sold originally as a Lightning in the US, spending almost all of its working life on dragstrips and salt flats - to no tremendous avail actually, but the modifications added to the charm of the beast, which had sat in boxes for 35 years.

Something about the history of the machine, its completeness and low mileage, and its charisma, convinced the heroes of our story that they absolutely wouldn't settle for another Vincent, this had to be the one. Thus the queries began, tenative at first ('would you consider selling?'), then more bold ('would you take x?'). Finally an audience was granted.

The story improves: on the appointed day, sitting discretely in another box was a second Shadow engine, and just about all the rest of the bike, which had been drag-raced in the 1960s, using an overstretched Egli-style backbone for a frame... and the humorous indignity of having its crankcases chromed. That's just not going to come off! But, perhaps it could be painted black....

It seemed natural to make a package deal for the entire lot, taking the former owner out of the Vincent business completely, and perhaps adding significantly to his retirement fund. A deal was struck, a handshake, a hug, a trip to the bank, the renting of a truck to haul it all home, and two Vincents will, within 12 month's time, be on the road and roaring again. The new owner is no slouch.


Jerry Smith said...

It always amazes me that there are still barn finds out there just waiting for someone to meet the right person or ask the right question. Good luck to the new Vincent owner. The task ahead doesn't look like an easy one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,
great story on your website regarding the Shadow, I'm a regular visitor but I'm in Abu Dhabi at the moment & the network won't allow me to leave a comment.
I hope the Beast snarls again in 2010!

Very warmest wishes for the festive period.