The Myth of Vincent Motorcycles’ Black Lightning | Robb Report

The Myth of Vincent Motorcycles’ Black Lightning | Robb Report

(guitar music) – During the actual auction
itself and leading up to the auction, you could
just feel it in the air this excitement. You never know what’s
really gonna happen because people keep their cards
very close to their chest. I knew there was gonna be an
interest, I knew it was gonna do well but I never anticipated
how well it was gonna do. (light music) – The most prized of the Vincents is undoubtedly a Black Lightning. This example which I saw in
the flesh when it was in France is quite amazing because
it’s original and race bikes as you can imagine,
they get knocked around and this has got all its battle scars. That’s why this one’s so special. A, it’s a record setter, B, it’s a Black Lightning and C, it’s just as it
was when it set records and I don’t think there’s
another motorcycle like this. – The motorcycle in question,
the Ehret Lightning, back in the summer of 2017,
I received a phone call from a guy called Patrick Godet, very well known Vincent
restorer, Vincent maestro and his client had this
motorcycle that he’d mechanically restored but
cosmetically left it alone and I don’t think I
could’ve been in my car and on the Eurotunnel faster. I walk into this immaculate
workshop and there is the bike up on a pedestal as it should
be surrounded by all of its original parts, a sidecar all
the cowling of the machine, all that untouched original paint still with Ehret’s annotations
over it, framed by this old packing crate with the
Vincent stamp on it. I mean, it was just incredible. One of those moments where you
get shivers down your spine. – So the post-War Vincent
when it was introduced if you think about the
environment certainly in England was incredibly tough for people. There was rationing, there
was a housing shortage. A lot of people were
coming back from the War either damaged mentally
or damaged physically. Call it the genius or call
it the sheer chutzpah, Philip Vincent decided
that what the world needed was this motorcycle that
would do 110 miles an hour, cost the same as a small house
and would use up whatever little petrol coupons you had. The other great thing he had
was this I think romanticism. He could see that a
motorcycle could be more than just a very fast
vehicle so he gave them these wonderful names like Black
Lightning, Black Shadow. There was a mystique to the brand Vincent and I think Vincent was very
adept at creating the mystique. Vincent Motorcycles set
records around the world, so records in Brazil,
in Ireland, in Belgium, in France, in America, in Australia. So there was a cohort of
people who would read about somebody else doing this
thinking if I got a Vincent I could do that. One of the most interesting successful Vincent record setters was Rollie Free. It’s one of the most famous
pictures in motorcycling, possibly the most famous, him at the Bonneville Salt
Flats with a swimming cap and swimming trunks and what looked like basketball boots on. Jack Ehret is in the same tradition, wanted to be the fastest person
in Australia on two wheels. – Jack Ehret was a motorcycle dealer. He was also clearly a speed
freak, an adrenaline junkie and Land Speed Records, sold bikes. The previous record was
around 122 miles an hour. Other Vincents are going
faster than that and I’m sure that’s what would’ve inspired him to make this record attempt. Why is the Vincent Black Lightning the Holy Grail of motorcycling? There were only ever 33 examples produced. There are only 19 correct
examples still in existence. And it’s on every collector’s wish list. This particular example of
a Vincent Black Lightning was produced in 1951. The bike had a fantastic history. We knew every single owner from
when this machine was built at the factory. There was an Australian
guy called Tony McAlpine. He took it back to Australia
where he then sold it to another chap who owned it
for only a short period of time and then went to another
Australian vehicle dealer before Jack Ehret came along
and bought the machine. He then had it for the next 47, 50 years and did the Australian Land Speed Records which was just over 141 miles an hour. We had the original wheels,
the original cowling, tank, saddle, all of these parts which are incredibly hard to find. The previous record for
a motorcycle at auction was for a 1915 Cyclone that
was sold in 2012 for $851,000. – Jack Ehret speed record-breaking Vincent 1951 Black Lightning. – We had guys from the
UK, America, Australia, mainland Europe all interested
in acquiring this motorcycle. – Yes, $500,000! – It really came alive
around the 550, $600,000 mark because that’s where the
real bidding battle started to take place between a
gentleman in the audience and a gentleman on the phone. – 580, does it stay here in the US? – The whoops and the cheers
and when it got to around 790, $800,000, the guy in the
room was shaking his head and the auctioneer said,
“Just one more, sir?” – At $830,000. Are you sure? One more, one more? Five, $835,000!
(cheering) – When Philip Vincent passed away in 1979, he didn’t think his
motorcycles would be forgotten and he always thought there
would be a market for them. Now, I don’t think he could’ve
predicted the sort of prices that this motorcycle’s
fetched but he did note that these things were special. He probably knew that nothing
like it would be built again. – At $840,000, United States
of America, you’re done. Great Britain, you’re out. Well on, the Aussies! (light music)

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  1. Probably got original motor oil in it too. Disgusting the price someone paid for this.
    I'm more impressed by a motorcycle designed and built for the masses, which is what Vincent should of done for the people of post WW2 bombed out Europe.

  2. Very good price, there will not be another like this to buy, nice it went to Australia, where hopefully it will be kept running and not be treated as an asset. Thanks for posting.

  3. A friend of mine had a Vincent back in the 70's which had been modified for drag racing (hardly any stock trim left) but it was a Vincent and indeed fast as lightning. Affectionately known as "The Beast"

  4. I discover that video where my friend Patrick (I miss him so )and David are into, great, what a rare machine , Wonderful !

  5. "Only" 19 of 33 "ever produced" still exist in "correct" form. 33 produced = "unpopular". 19 remaining = "fakes". Bidding against a "phone bidder" = "buttfucked" if you "win".

  6. Perhaps, my next motorcycle. I have waited too long already. They're only original once. You only live once.

  7. My father and uncle both had Rapides which they bought from Conway Motors in Shepherd's Bush, London. Dad later worked for Searchlight Products who bought out Vincent and changed production to industrial lighting and other crap. It's a shame that Vincents, as with anything beautiful, become a rich man's plaything…auctioned, talked about and owned by men in grey suits and hipster scarves….

  8. Think about this, that's a 1000 cc V-Twin that many had over 120 MPH with the record being 141 back in the 1950's. Compare that to the new 114 cubic inch Harley's which will get you right around 120 + MPH. That bike was incredible.

  9. Die Vincent gehört zu den schönsten Motorrädern aller Zeiten. Der Motor ist wunderschön; das ist wirklich noch Technik, die begeistert!! Mein Gott, was haben die Engländer damals für ein Zauberstück kreiert!!! Schade nur, daß man so eine Maschine nicht mehr kaufen/ bezahlen kann. Top Video!

  10. The producers of SpeedisExpensive, the Vincent documentary mentioned in this, have released a sneak preview – see it on here:

  11. I come from a family of motorcyclists . My dad of course started with with Indians and sas and triumphs and Nortons ariel Square 4s . But when he spoke of the Vincent's it was with such reverence and respect it is hard to describe . As a little boy I heard these stories of , at the time , unbelievable speed and I was in awe . I have had my share of bikes but I never felt I owned one for I never owned a Vincent . Truly the motorcycle of legend .

  12. Imagine going back to 1955 on a turbo Hayabusa……"Hey guys, you wanna watch me set a new land speed record"?

    But it doesn't have the soul of a Vincent Black Lightning 1952

  13. My friend Steve took his Vincent to 152.406mph on the flats at Bonneville in 2006. Not sure what the record is now, but it was still pretty damn cool. His is a 1952, I think.

  14. Oh! Yes! Rollie Free got a mention and a shot of him on the bike. Great bikes and I agree there won't be another of it's ilk ever produced again. Would love to see another though…

  15. I've actually heard it run at the Ross Vintage Bike Show Tasmania. It starts real easy ( unlike the alcohol fueled British singles also on display), AWESOME machine

  16. As a Aussie I am proud that a fellow countryman was willing to part with that sort of coin to gain a piece of motorcycling history, money well spent……good onýa cobber

  17. There was a perfect vincent black shadow at a bike shop in Glen Innes NSW @1979. I sat on it one saturday morning, next week, there was a "please dont touch" sign. I got to sit on one.

  18. I'm rather privy to ride my mates Vincent red rapide 1000 on a couple of occasions.
    He has a shed full of British bikes and others. He named his son Vincent.

  19. My cousin owned the last Black Lighting made as a teenager in the 50’s.

  20. My friend jack pitman has one identical to this one in the video …has owned it for the last 35 years as it still sets in his front showroom of "the shop" ..and ill bet big money he will sell it today for way less than the one itvthis video

  21. A bit expensive to use for a speedway sidecar Where Vincents reigned for a long time until defeated by noise restrictions.
    There is a clip on You Tube with 'Vincents at Broadford' with 4 of them running inc Len Bowes supercharged example.
    Crank up the volume.!!
    Though I grew up with seeing them run most Fri nights at Rowley Pk in the 60s and early 70s. And I will never forget the thunder. Replaced by ring a ding things.
    My father had a couple of friends with them, they would turn up at our place on a Sat Morning. My father an experienced endurance trials rider never really liked them, they did not handle to his taste though were not lacking in power!

  22. "…Said Red Molly to James, that's a fine motorbike: now a girl could feel special on any such like…." Richard Thompson's masterpiece song "Vincent Black Lightning"

  23. Grew up on tales of people telling stories of Vincents. Insane speeds, unbelievable madness. It was always the Shadow, never heard of the Lightning until now. Maybe in the Pacific Northwest the Lighting didn't get sold here.idk

  24. Seen a few over the years, and they always impress. But the first one was around 1971. Some mates were getting into bikes and we'd hang around the local mechanics, in Gannon St Tempe Australia. I think they called the guy Doc, and he had a good reputation, did a lot of twins. Anyway, one came in only running on one cylinder. I can remember his comment after the test ride, that if that's how it ran on one cylinder……. Guess it was probably his first as well.

  25. Way back in the 1980's when taking the Industrial bus from Centeral station to the Shire ,we on our journey would pass through the Sydney suburb of Redfern. Very close to the markets was an old motorbike spares /sales outlet run by a Gent who would do his deliveries on a Vincent with an old sidecar. Certanily was a sight to behold as the outfit powered off the sidewalk and away. Many years later I was waiting at the traffic lights to change in Albion st Surry Hills riding a Laverda Jota when from behind my attention was focused by the rumble of a V twin. The rider pulled up along side as he admired my ride I was astonished to witness a stripped down mean Vincent thumping impatiently almost as if it as out of tune. The lights changed to green I gestured to him to take the lead so I could hear the roar of the pipes. I followed the Vincent around Centennial park , out to Coogee bay at a skill level only a Laverda would allow me to ride at. Vincent rider was fearless and commanding , was an absoloute blast to follow and a midnight ride committed to memory.

  26. The story os my dad owned a Vincent and sold it to the sandy bandit in Portland Oregon to marry my mom. Last he heard it was in Tokyo or hongkong. Is there a way to find if this is true?

  27. I worked for two brother ,s in london garage 25years ago , they had 2 black shadow s , fair play to you s Bernie and Dave ,, the had a collection of amazing bike,s it was like a dream every day for me , thank you ,

  28. Title is about the Vincent myth. Video is a series of heads fapping over an auction result. Bike sells for the price of an above average home in a great location. Circles are jerking. The bike itself gets barely a mention. Oh dear, bitten by the subbies again.

  29. Around 1969 my shop teacher Marty Dickerson brought a Lightning in to the shop to work on iy. At the time I think he was President of the Vincent club of America..

  30. Loved the Vincent all my life and I cannot express the joy and emotion at the last when I found out it came back to Australia!

  31. I bought a 1952 Vincent Rapide in very good running condition in 1962 becaue my wife was pregnant and I loved riding bikes. I put a Swallow Flight single-seater fibre-glass side-car on it and rode every day only reverting it to a solo bike after about five years when the third "sprog" arrived. The Watsonian Palma was not big enough. I used to leave such as Mini-Coopers in my wake even in the rain and especially on icy roads. Being a Aircraft Engine Technician trained affectionado I rebuilt it every 3-4 years regretfully selling it and another two I had built up from spare parts, a Shadow and a Black Prince, when my wife left me. By then I had a Ducati 900 SS 1981 model that left on the twisties ALL other road bikes. Now 82 I still have the memories but not regretfully the bikes. Vincent Owners Club (lapsed) membership number 7613. Successfully raced several classic bikes especially the Vincent. Now retired in Spain but I carry pics of my bikes with me to show the youngsters. The Black Lightning was a modified road bike with slightly higer compression pistions and modified cams that could still be used comfortably on the roads. Friends in South Africa rode from Johannesburg to Cape Town, over 1 000 miles in those days with the open exhaust on Black Lightnings.

    " HOLD MY BEER"!!

  33. In the '90s the Vincent owners clubs held a15/th rally at the old Montana Territorial Prison at Deer Lodge, Montana. There were lots of Vincents going all over town one hell of a sigh close to 75 I'd say.

  34. Post war Britain, people are starving and wounded, many thousands are dead fighting to save the aristocrats empire,, people are homeless, jobless and looking at an uncertain future,, Vincent an Argentinian, who was exempt from war duty,,,,says I know! I will build a bike only the rich can afford,, it will cost as much as a house, which the poor who fought for our country cannot afford.,,,,,, what a man! ,,,,,,Doesn’t it make you proud to be British? Bloody cool bike though!

  35. I actually touched one at a concert in Terrytown, NY, USA In the Early 2000s. It looked beautiful but I wouldn't have wanted to ride it. Way too precious. I was happy with my 1989 Ninja 250.

  36. There is no "Myth" about the Vincent. Superior engineering, superior materials and superior performance, all combined for ease of maintenance and thousands of miles of trouble free riding. I worked for Sid Biberman of Vincent fame, in Norfolk Virginia for about 17 years . I just rode by our old shop today. Many memories were made there. I did work on them and a lot of other machines. Where could a young man work on Vincents, a 1932 Ariel Square 4 , build a Turbo Z-1, tune up Nortons, Triumphs, BSAs, then rebuild Honda 4s. Sid has passed on, but his son Matt has carried on the tradition in Louisville, Ky. At 68 I still do a 100 mile a day commute on a BMW all year around.

  37. Had the opportunity to buy a Vincent 500[ one forward sloping single cylinder] for $36 in 1971, not as collectible as the V twin models, but still an exotic motorbike, a weird thing to ride as they seemed to hump up under acceleration,wish I'd bought that bike.

  38. Dam, my eyes are leaking….
    Glad to hear She is going back down under! Just another reason for Me to go also!!!! Is it available to view? Great it's not restored!

  39. Years ago I heard a very unique exhaust sound of a motorcycle. Like many guys I instantly turned my head just in time to get a glimpse of a Vincent Black Shadow motoring by. My dad rode one for a few weeks in the 1950's. He was thinking of buying it from a friend, but didn't pull the trigger which is too bad.

  40. Why couldent there be a modern reoroduction of the vincent made .by 3d printers .but im guessing there would be no market for them .

  41. Love the bike! It's always the same story though. The mechanic that restores the the bike truly truly loves it, but he's broke. The owner says how much he loves the bike until the gavel falls. $$$$$$$

  42. Come on letts get real the Vincent produced 36bhp and 38ft/lbs torque. It was the torque that excited the populous. Just do the calcs.

  43. The Vincent V twins are arguably the world's second "Superbike" and a worthy successor to the first, Brough Superior.
    No wonder Ogri's ride of choice was a Norvin.

  44. Auction against “a guy on the phone”

    Guy in room starts caving.

    “Come on, one more bid? Trust me.”

    Wow! You won!

  45. Brutish bikes! I remember a friend in the 1960s called John Jennings and his young blonde daughter Julie, based at a commercial shed at Camborne in Cornwall UK where they had quite a collection of Black Shadows, and both of them often raced them, being placed at the back of the starting grid each time because they were very poor starters.

  46. Bikes should be driven not owned by some rich douche bag cunt who doesn't even have a license. Total Failure. Bankers should not be allowed to touch bikes. They should stick to underage girls and boys. Hands off scum bags

  47. I had the honor of pushing around and sitting on the Rollie Free bike. I did not stretch out on it like Mr. Free.

  48. I've been running stock and slightly modified newer Triumphs from 865 to 1200cc at Bonneville since 2011 and I haven't beat 141.5 mph yet.

  49. Good to have it come home again !

  50. We are lucky enough to own a 1950 Vincent Black Lightning here in England for the past 10 years and this is it.

  51. A few years back i was on a camp site and a guy rolled up on a Vincent to camp the night on the way home from a continental rally. Looked old and normal, i.e scruffy. I reckon that night all the big fancy self propelled tin tents were out valued by that bike.

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