Rollie Free’s capture of the “World’s fastest production motorcycle” record in 1948 on a tuned Series B Black Shadow led directly to Vincent marketing a racer of similar specifications to Free’s machine – the Series C Black Lightning. To enable Free to reach 150.319 mph., the power of the Shadow engine had been boosted from 55 to around 70 bhp by means of a raised compressin ratio, Mark II cams, Amal TT carburettors, and 2” diameter straight-through exhaust pipes, all of which found their way on to the production Black Lightning. First exhibited at the 1948 Earls Court Show, the Lightning came equipped for racing with yellow digits Smith rev counter, Borrani alloy wheel rims, Elektron brake plates and a gearbox modified for quicker changes. The total amount of produced bikes was 30 plus six or seven spare engines built for car use and fitted on racing Coopers. The bike you’re looking at was rebuilt at the beginning of the ‘70s. The engine and some frame and body parts had been used by Jack Surtees, John Surtees’ father and Vincent’s tester, in sidecar races during 1950 and 1951. In June of 2006 has been proudly ridden in the Isle of Man’s Lap of Honour during the Tourist Trophy.

Years: 1948-1955
Production: circa 30
Designer: Phil Irving
Provenience: CMM Collezione Motociclistica Milanese


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