Philip Vincent believes that speed records will boost business for his Vincent HRD motorcycle brand. In 1947 he had modified for that purpose a commercial Vincent HRD Series B Rapide. This bike is nicknamed Gunga Din by reference to Kipling's poem which ends with the famous line : "You're better than I am, Gunga Din".
Gunga Din will serve as a development model for several years. The first commercial derivative is the Black Shadow whose prototype is completed in February 1948.
In its original version, Gunga Din reaches 130 mph (210 km/h). That is not enough : this speed has been reached by BMW since 1929 and the German brand held since 1937 the land speed record at 173 mph, followed closely by Gilera and Brough.
In 1948 Vincent prepares a racing version of the Black Shadow for which superfluous equipment is removed at the expense of the road homologation. On September 13 in Bonneville, a modified Black Shadow overcomes the American speed record at 148 mph.
The prototype of the new Vincent HRD Black Lightning model incorporating the Bonneville improvements is exhibited by Vincent at the British International Motor Show which opens at Earls Court on October 27, 1948. The Black Lightning is very expensive and can only interest confirmed champions. Only 5 units are sold during the first half of 1949.
The second bike in this series had been sold to Swiss pilot Hans Stärkle, who had been before the war a works team rider for NSU. He used it in competition, sometimes with a sidecar. The next owners modified it to obtain the road homologation. This Black Lightning has remained accident free despite a frequent use.
Please watch and listen to the video shared by the auction house before the 2018 auction.