Lot 346

Dare to Dream Collection

1949 Vincent HRD Black Shadow Series C


$100,000 - $140,000 USD  | Offered Without Reserve

Canada | Toronto, Ontario



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Frame No.
Engine No.
Canadian Registration
To be offered on Saturday, 1 June 2024
  • One of approximately 1,700 Black Shadows produced; final year for the “Vincent HRD” nameplate
  • Retains numbers-matching 998-cc V-twin engine and rear frame
  • A beautiful, impeccably engineered machine from one of motorcycling’s storied marques
Please note, this lot is registered in Canada and import duty will be applicable to all countries outside of Canada, including the United States. RM Sotheby’s will assist buyers with importation and for residents of the USA, in obtaining a US title.

In the pantheon of great motorcycle marques past and present, no name stands taller than Vincent. Established in 1928, when Philip Vincent acquired the assets of defunct motorcycling firm HRD, Vincent HRD built its reputation on its innovative, exquisite, no-compromises engineering and performance that seemed to be years (if not decades) ahead of its time.

Everything Vincent HRD stood for was encapsulated in the Black Shadow, which was introduced in 1948. Approximately 1,700 were built until the firm ceased motorcycle production in 1955. Constructed around a 55-horsepower, 998-cubic-centimeter 50-decree V-twin engine—which was employed as a stressed member—the Black Shadow was a legitimate 125-mph bike. Just as impressive from the modern perspective, it actually had ride quality and braking capability on par with its speed!

Because of its incredible performance, the Black Shadow has obtained a darkly romantic reputation as a widowmaker (something that Hunter S. Thompson’s infamous article on the model did little to diminish). But this sells the Vincent short. The great Peter Egan, reviewing the Black Shadow for the September 1998 issue of Cycle World, found it “…solid as a brick, unfazed by switchbacks, dips, roller-coaster hilltops, fast sweepers or bumpy mid-speed corners. […] It is, honestly, one of the nicest-handling bikes I've ridden, neutral and instinctive on turn-in and lean.” His review is full of comparisons to bikes far newer—comparisons highly favorable to the Vincent, it must be noted.

Correspondence with the Vincent HRD Owners Club indicates that this Black Shadow’s engine number is correct for a November 1949 Series C example, and that its engine number corresponds to that of the rear frame, RC4555B. The motorcycle’s UFM (upper frame member) also bears the number RC4555B; note however that inspection indicates that this is a later stamping. Significantly, 1949 was the last year that “HRD” was part of the marque’s name. In 1950, the firm simply became “Vincent Motorcycles.”

Acquired by the Dare to Dream Collection in 2014, this Series C Black Shadow is so much more than just a vintage motorcycle. Breathtaking even when stationary, it is, truly, a dream machine; it inspires all who look upon it to imagine what it would be like to throw a leg over the saddle, seek out the open road, and explore the ever-beckoning upper limits of that big 150-mph speedometer.