Preface by Fritz Egli

With the preparation of this book, came numerous questions about my passion for the Vincent. How and why was I inspired to create a frame for that fantastic engine, details about my design choices, my successes in business, but also some failures such as my project to reproduce the Vincent engine in the 1970s. And, of course, the fact that many workshops have been manufacturing and selling unauthorized copies of my frames even today. In fact, dozens of questions and a lot of good memories, all wrapped up with intense feelings.

Everything started in 1953 when I met a Black Shadow for the first time while I was in the middle of my four-year apprenticeship as a precision mechanic in Zurich. I became the owner of this fabulous machine one and a half years later and fast forward, more than 60 years later, this Vincent is still my favorite bike utilizing the stock frame but with some improvements to the brakes and suspension

Today I ride it attached to a classic French Precision sidecar. I also recently upgraded my Shadow with a stunning Godet 1330cc engine delivering 98 horsepower. I cannot imagine a bike that could give me more pleasure considering I have had the privilege to build, ride and race many different dream motorcycles, all more attractive than the last. But this is the one. I started my riding experience with it and I will not separate from it for the rest of my life.

Fritz W. Egli

(Photo © Denis Boussard)

(Photo © Denis Boussard)

All the content of this website is subject to copyright – Philippe Guyony © 2015


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)

All the content of this website is subject to copyright – Philippe Guyony © 2015