Tagged: HRD

Ahead of Its Time: 1952 Vincent Black Shadow Series C for Sale

1952 Vincent Black Shadow R Side

One of the most iconic sportbikes of all time, the Vincent Black Shadow is blessed with a name that evokes powerful imagery, even if you’ve never actually seen one. I just sounds sinister, dangerous, and exotic and in the flesh, the bike is every bit what you’d expect. It’s hard to understand just how exotic and sophisticated Vincent motorcycles were at the time. The only bike in recent memory to combine so many advanced features into a single machine was probably John Britten’s V1000.

1952 Vincent Black Shadow Dash

The Black Shadow was basically frameless, with the steering head bolted directly to the front cylinder and the rear suspension working off the four-speed gearbox, which was operated by an adjustable foot-pedal in an era when tank-shifters were still the norm. Just the fact that it had a rear suspension was pretty unusual when the Series C Black Shadow was introduced in 1949…

At the front, the bike used a girder fork, as Phil Vincent disliked the flexible front forks available at the time. His “Girdraulic” [didn’t the Brits love their portmanteaus] should have worked fine in theory, but limited dampers of the time led to stories of dangerous handling that only fueled the legend.

1952 Vincent Black Shadow R Engine

The original 47.5° v-twin was a “plumber’s nightmare” of external oil lines, but the later 50° engine is one of the most beautiful motorcycle motivators of all time: the black-enameled engine cases that gave the Black Shadow its name are set off by contrasting bare-metal pushrod tubes. It’s compact and powerful, with 55hp and stump-pulling torque and unit construction that was yet another relatively exotic feature for the time.

1952 Vincent Black Shadow R Side Front

From the original eBay listing: 1952 Vincent Black Shadow Series C for Sale

This is a stunning machine that is currently registered and ridden.  We have been contracted by the owner to sell this bike from his private collection, and I have personally ridden this motorcycle and can vouch for it being a well maintained and spirited runner.  This bike has a clear Wyoming title and is being sold through our shop and we are a licensed and bonded Wyoming state motor vehicle dealer established in 1996.  This beauty comes with the original V.O.C. dating certificate and Vincent HRD works order form, engine check sheet, cycle check sheet, road test report, dispatch check sheet and completion note stating it was sold to the Indian Sales Corporation (Vincent’s licensed USA distributor) in June, 1952.  This has the original Smith’s MPH speedometer with 3,204 miles indicated.  The neck numbers and right/left case numbers are matched (exactly 1900 places off).  We have not been able to find the rear frame number stamp, and there is a small postage stamp sized area that we have removed the paint from on the lower left axle stay forging.

1952 Vincent Black Shadow L Engine

Considering the bike weighs in at 458lbs, it’s almost like we’re looking at the spec sheet for a modern motorcycle: the construction and performance are basically identical to almost any bike from the late sixties or early seventies, so you’re looking at a machine that was at least twenty years ahead of its time… This example is apparently well-used, a big bonus since barn-finds will require big money and a full-restoration to put right. Aside from the primitive brakes, these are bikes that can comfortably keep up with modern traffic, an impressive feat for a bike with roots in the 1930s.


1952 Vincent Black Shadow L Side

It’s In the Name: 1951 Vincent Rapide for Sale

1951 Vincent Rapide R Front

While the sinister-sounding Vincent Black Shadow gets all the headlines, the more basic Rapide has almost all of its more evocative sibling’s impressive technology and speed. In the same way the racing Brittens are almost mind-bendingly advanced considering the era in which they were built, these bikes include features that wouldn’t be seen regularly on mainstream bikes for another ten or twenty or even thirty years in some cases.

1951 Vincent Rapide Bars

The first Rapide was introduced in 1936 and used a 47.5° v-twin with unit construction to fit into the frame which was later changed to an even 50° when Vincent went to a frameless design. That’s right: the second-generation Rapide basically lacked a frame. Similar to Ducati’s radical Panigale, the steering head bolts to the front cylinder and the rear suspension mounts to the gearbox.

1951 Vincent Rapide L Side

And the suspension was just as radical. First of all, it actually had suspension at the rear, and used a set of girder forks up front. And like a modern motorcycle, the gearshift was foot-operated with a hand clutch.

1951 Vincent Rapide Engine

It was one of the very fastest, most exotic bikes of the time, and with 45 torquey horses pushing 450lbs, these have plenty of poke to keep up with modern traffic, and you could always tune yours up to a Black Shadow-spec 55hp.

Vincents that come up for sale these days seem to be either pristine collectibles or barn-find basket-cases. This particular bike falls right in the middle of those two extremes.

From the original eBay listing: 1951 Vincent Rapide Series C for Sale

Recently pulled out of long term storage 

This is a very rare example of a Touring specification Rapide. It has been stored for the better part of the last 30 years inside. The engine turns over and has compression. No attempt has been made to start the bike. It is a matching numbers bike -see photos of the UFM (upper frame member), RFM (rear frame member) and engine being 1900 numbers apart. The right engine case has been replaced at some time during its history. It is missing the speedo and rear stand, and the fenders are incorrect, but it is otherwise complete. The correct Miller generator is included with the bracket-see photo. 

This motorcycle was originally supplied to Indian Sales Corp. of San Francisco in May, 1951 according to factory records. It is a touring specification with raised handlebars, steel fenders, 19″ front and 18″ rear wheel. Tires are a Firestone front and Dunlop rear with lots of tread, however, they are older and must be replaced prior to any road use. 

This bike could be used as-is cosmetically, however it would benefit from a restoration. The paint is original on the frame. The red tank and fender paint is shiny but has flaws. The headlight lens is cracked. Sharp eyes may notice the left rear brake drum is from a Black Shadow-no big deal, but I thought I’d point it out. If you have any questions, please ask prior to bidding. 

There is a very reasonable reserve on this auction. This motorcycle is not advertised elsewhere, and this auction is the exclusive opportunity to purchase it. This is a an extremely rare bike and RAPIDLY appreciating.  An opportunity like this does not come along very often, so NOW is the time to buy-thanks and good luck!

1951 Vincent Rapide R Side

This is obviously in serious need of work to return it to concours-ready condition, although it doesn’t sound like much would be needed to make it a rough and ready runner. Considering the way values are headed, a full restoration is certainly an appropriate path, and the bike looks pretty cool, in its current worn and well-used state.


1951 Vincent Rapide R Rear