Bonhams to sell the 14th production Vincent Black Lightning at the Spring Stafford Sale


1949 Vincent-HRD 998cc Black Lightning – Estimate £120,000 – 150,000

Bonhams is delighted to announce the consignment of a recent ‘Barn Find’ Vincent Black Lightning, one of the most captivating and highly prized motorcycles ever produced, to be sold at The Spring Stafford Sale, held in association with International Classic Motorcycle Show, over the weekend of the 20 – 21 April 2024

At a time when almost all major motorcycle manufacturers offer 1,000cc superbikes of broadly similar performance, it is hard to imagine the status enjoyed by the big Vincent v-twin in its 1940/50s heyday. This was a time when the average family saloon was barely capable of reaching 70mph, and not until the arrival of Jaguar’s XK120 was there a production sports car that could live with the thundering v-twins from Stevenage. With a top speed approaching 120mph and bettering it in the Black Shadow’s case, the Vincent v-twin was quite simply the fastest production road vehicle of its day.

At the pinnacle of Vincent production sat the Black Lightning: a competition model produced in limited numbers and affordable only by enthusiasts with the deepest of pockets. It is also notable as one of very few motorcycles immortalised in song: by folk/rock hero Richard Thompson (Vincent Black Lightning).

It was Rollie Free’s capture of the ‘world’s fastest production motorcycle’ record in 1948 on a tuned Series-B Black Shadow that led directly to Vincent marketing a racer of similar specification to Free’s machine: the Series-C Black Lightning.

The example we offer is one of two specially built for sidecar racing and supplied new to Poland, where it was raced successfully by Tomasz Kamiński. The Black Lightning was brought back to the UK in 1972 and has been in the present ownership since 1976.

Professionally restored circa 1999/2000 and unused since, the Vincent is presented in ‘barn find’ condition for recommissioning and/or further restoration.

As found in its barn. Copyright: @theclassicmotorcyclechannel

With only some 33 complete machines produced, the Black Lightning is unquestionably the most collectible Vincent ever. All the survivors are either in museums or the hands of private collectors, and only very rarely is one sold publicly, a state of affairs that makes the sale of this ‘Polish Lightning’ an event of exceptional importance.

Yet the Bonhams Motorcycle team have had the great pleasure of offering several of these highly coveted machines, championing the Vincent Market, and hold the outright world record for the Vincent Marque: The ex-Tony McAlpine, Jack Ehret, Australian Land Speed Record-breaking, 1951 Vincent 998cc Black Lightning, which smashed the world record, selling for $929,000 at Bonhams Las Vegas Sale in 2018.

Head over to The Classic Motorcycle Channel now for a brilliant video of Bill To of Bonhams, John Oakes and celebrated journalist Alan Cathcart discussing the importance of this incredible find.

Joining the Lightning at Stafford is another important racing machine, the 1959 Benelli 248cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle, Estimate £60,000 – 80,000. One of only four ‘final-specification’ Benelli 250cc singles built for the 1959 season, it offers an incredibly rare opportunity to acquire a Grand Prix racing motorcycle from one of Italy’s premier marques.

c.1958 Benelli 248cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle, Estimate £60,000 – 80,000

For more information visit www.bonhams.com/motorcycles or contact a member of the team:

E: [email protected]

T: +44 (0) 20 8963 2817

2024 Bonhams Auction Schedule

The Bonhams team look forward to welcoming you to both their live and online auctions throughout 2024.

Bonhams 2024 Live Motorcycle Sales

The Spring Stafford Sale – The International Classic MotorCycle Show, 20 -21 April 2024

The Autumn Stafford Sale – The Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show, 12 – 13 October 2024

Bonhams 2024 Online Motorcycle Sales

The January Motorcycle Sale – Online, 12 – 22 January 2024

The February Motorcycle Sale – Online, 16 – 26 February 2024

The May Motorcycle Sale – Online, 10 – 20 May 2024

The June Motorcycle Sale – Online, 14 – 24 June 2024

The July Motorcycle Sale – Online, 12 – 22 July 2024

The August Motorcycle Sale – Online, 16 – 27 August 2024

The November Motorcycle Sale – Online, 8 – 18 November 2024

The December Motorcycle Sale – Online, 6 – 17 December 2024






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