|More Information on the Vincent Black Shadow|
The Vincent Black Shadow was a hand-built motorcycle produced by Vincent HRD from 1948. The series "C", which was introduced in 1949, had a 998 cc (60.9 cu in) 50 degree OHV V-twin engine running a 7.3:1 compression ratio.
The first model from Vincent was the Rapide, followed by the Black Shadow in response to a demand for a more "sports oriented model". The Black Shadow was developed from an early-model Rapide that had been specially tuned by factory tester and racer George Brown, his brother Cliff and designer Phil Irving. With relatively minor modifications, such as enlarged ports, bigger carburettors and increased compression, the test model, known as "Gunga Din", gave 55 bhp (41 kW), creating the basis for the Black Shadow. The Black Shadow proved very popular and its production overtook the Rapide. The Black Shadow's engine, instead of being cradled in a set of frame rails, was suspended from above, becoming a stressed member, or integral part, of the structure.
The Black Shadow featured several new technological innovations, such as: an original alternative to the primitive telescopic front forks of the day, a sprung rear sub-frame, extensive use of aluminium alloy, and a unit construction stressed engine. Overall weight was a relatively light 458 lb (208 kg). While other contemporary motorcycles tended to be polished and chromed, the "Black Shadow" was unusual in being predominantly black. The black enamel crankcase was effective both for marketing and heat dissipation. Some 16 "White Shadows" were built, made to Shadow specification but with the Rapide's plain aluminium finish. Fewer than 1,700 Vincent Black Shadows were made, all hand-assembled.
In 2007, The Vincent H.R.D. Owners Club commissioned the VOC Spares Company Limited to build a replica Black Shadow from new parts. Among other things, the project was to prove that all the parts were in stock and available from the VOC Spares Company Limited. Having received many glowing reports from the motorcycle press in the UK, the machine was eventually auctioned by Bonhams and now resides with a member of the Vincent H.R.D. Owners Club in New Zealand.
Journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote that, "If you rode the Black Shadow at top speed for any length of time, you would almost certainly die." and mentioned the model several times in his 1971 novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.