Chapter 1

Glory, Fame and Pride

The immediate post-WWII period had been extraordinary for the Vincent, accumulating much fame, glory and pride across the world. By 1955, the Vincent was by far the fastest production motorcycle, combining innovation, excellence and exclusivity on two wheels. So fast and so advanced, it inspired all sorts of legendary stories, like in Australia, where “… a Rapide owner chased by a police motorcyclist, went so fast that he overtook another police motorcyclist riding flat out in pursuit of another speeding miscreant!”  However, Vincents were also expensive machines to build and market, and profit were tiny. The works was placed under receivership as early as 1949, and the sharp decline in production from 1952 added to that financial stress the company was already enduring. The innovative Series D that Vincent was to launch for 1954 was the last chance that the company board of directors was prepared to offer Philip Vincent, and only a successful result could prevent the legendary Vincent brand from coming to an end.

This chapter features the following main sections with 118 photos:

  • The ABC(D)-Book of Vincent, including the presentation of all models, their technical characteristics, a product roadmap covering 1928 to 1955 and a comprehensive background to understand why and how the 1000 Vincent became a living legend…
  • Gunga Din (the works mule): From darkness to the limelight.
  • The World’s Fastest Standard Motorcycle, including Bonneville records.
  • The legendary Black Lightning (comprehensive review of the model and its history).
  • The 500 Grey Flash (comprehensive review on this unknown motorcycle and its history).
  • The Black Lightning land speed record campaign.
  • No need to race a Black Lightning to knock out the competition (club racing).
  • Speed and regularity, a shift in Vincent brand positioning (Montlhéry records).
  • The day the clock stood still at the Stevenage works (why and how the Vincent brand declined and came to an end).
Black Shadow Series B restored by Glen Bewley. (Photo © Glen Bewley)

Black Shadow Series B restored by Glen Bewley. (Photo © Glen Bewley)

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