Vincent HRD now takes all the financial risks to produce the fastest bike in the world. The Black Lightning is the commercial model based on the motorcycle modified for Rollie Free. 31 units are built between 1948 and 1952.
When Vincent HRD was mortgaged for the first time in 1949, the chief engineer Phil Irving returned to his native Australia where he remained the very active vice president and then president of the Vincent HRD Owners Club until he died in 1992.
This effective Australian connection attracts to Vincent HRD's factory in Stevenage an Australian biker named Tony McAlpine who was trying his luck in Europe for the 1951 season. With the help of Phil Vincent, McAlpine prepares the Black Lightning that he will bring back home. The tests are conclusive : his bike is faster than the reference machine of the factory.
The Black Lightning with its 998 cc engine is not compatible with the grand prix of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme limited to 500 cc. McAlpine's bike is almost new when it arrives in Australia. McAlpine does not benefit from the efficiency of his settings : he sells it for preparing the next European season.
In 1953 Jack Ehret, third owner of that Black Lightning, pushes it up to 233 km/h, surpassing the previous Australian record by 35 km/h. Ehret maintained his Black Lightning in very good condition through a sparing use until he sold it in 1999.
This Black Lightning is for sale by Bonhams on January 25 in Las Vegas, lot 131. It had been restarted in 2014 by a specialist of the former brand. The removed parts and the original sidecar are joined to the lot.
SOLD for $ 930K including premium