1950 Series C Vincent Black Lightning #F10AB/1C/4439
The Vincent HRD Company Ltd. produced the cream of the Vincent crop with the special production of 30 Vincent Black Lightnings during 1949-52. Late in 1950 , #F10AB/1C/4439 factory produced Lightning was completed and scheduled to be delivered to Garreau in Paris, but was held by the factory and subsequently delivered along with sister Lightning #F10AB/1C/7304 to Australian Vincent dealer Sven Kallin in Adelaide, South Australia in September of 1951. After arrival the Lightnings were displayed in Kallin's showroom in a vee-formation as you entered the front door. Late in 1951, Lightning #F10AB/1C/4439 was sold to Australian motorcyclist Bluey Henderson for the sum of £500. The other was sold to Don Willison of speedway sidecar fame.
Bluey, now in his seventies, says he took the bike to Woomera in central South Australia, where he was working on the British/Australian rocket range project. He rode the bike only a few times on the road, finding the gear ratios too high for road use. He ran the Lightning on a fuel mixture of 60% petrol and 40% Benzol. He kept the bike for about two months and Kallins found a buyer in New South Wales for the Lightning.
In 1993, I purchased Black Lightning #F10AB/1C/4439 in Australia and airfreighted it back to the US. Noted Vincent restorer Michael White undertook an extensive restoration on a very good original Vincent Black Lightning over the next three years. The fall of 1996 the restoration was completed with final detailing by Craig Comontofski.. The pictures above are factory promo pictures, below is a "day one " of the Lightning as new. Many details vary from artist conception to actual factory production. To discuss this Lightning and additional Vincents, please E-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Lightning #4439 was reluctantly sold in 1999 to an ex-AHRMA racer who displays it in the Solvang Motorcycle Museum in California.
Engine Number F10AB/1C/4439
Frame Number RC6639
List Price $1500
Frame type - Vincent integral
Suspension , front - Vincent girder fork
Suspension , rear - Vincent special swing arm
Tire size , front - 3.00-21 Avon Racing
Tire size , rear - 3.50-20 Avon Racing
Wheel rim , front - Alloy WM-1 x 21
Wheel rim , rear - Alloy WM-2 x 20
Engine type V-twin 50 degree
Bore & Stroke - 3.31 x 3.54
Ignition - Lucas Racing Magneto KVFTT
Carburetion - 2ea 32mm Amal TT
Oil system - dry sump
Starting system - push
Rear set foot pegs and factory special foot controls
Seating - One, special Feridax Black Lightning
Lighting - none
Instrumentation , speed - Smiths.....MPH
Instrumentation , engine - Smiths.....RPM
Exhaust system - separate open headers
This is an actual photograph of Bluey Henderson at the time of the Lightning F10AB/1C/4439 purchase in 1951. The photo is taken just outside the front door to Sven Kallin's dealership and on the door is a Christmas greeting which is unreadable in this format , but says "We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and properous new year". The photo shows the Vincent Black Lightning with the expected details of no battery, no lights, rear sets, straight thru pipes ( and these are parallel to the ground, exiting at the bottom of the rear sprocket), alloy rims, trimmed front fender, the usual placement of the tachometer for a Lightning, trimmed chain guard, and nice period clothes on Bluey. Note the unsual routing of the rear plug wire and the fact that it is most likely a light colored, fabric covered spark plug wiring of the period. The look of the seat confirms the use of the Faridax model seat as opposed to the more flat model seats seen on more recent restorations. The shift lever is a simple reversal rather than a more complex rearset linkage and there are both sets of fender braces used at the rear with the fender length easily noted. The asymmetrical mounting of the speedometer on a Rapide bracket is a nice exclusive touch for this particular machine! How many other Vincent Black Lightnings can show "day one" photo documentation of the bike as it came "new" with their original owner? I would guess none! Can you imagine the rarity of this photo and this Lightning? 50 years!
Comparision drawing of a Black Shadow
By John Marshall, updated by Jim Baltusnik and Craig Comontofski
|F10AB/1B/900||R2890B||John Edgar||15.7.48||Rollie Free "Bathing Suit bike"|
|F10AB/1C/1320||RC3310||Cimic, Buenos Aires, Argentina||17.1.49||Earl's Court '48 Show Model - Black enameled fenders|
|F10AB/1C/1648||RC3548||Heironymi, Zurich, Switzerland||24.1.49||Bramptons, short rfm, "B"|
|F10AB/1C/1803||RC3903||Elder Smith, Sydney, Australia||18.3.49||Bramptons, short rfm, "B"|
|F10AB/1C/2283||RC4183||Nathan Smith, Durban, South Africa||13.6.49|
|F10AB/1C/2284||RC4184||Vic Proctor, South Africa||13.6.49|
|F10AB/1C/2285||RC4185||Elder Smith,Adelaide, Australia||18.7.49|
|F10AB/1C/2535||RC4435||V.L.Martin, California, USA||27.10.49|
|F10AB/1C/2536||RC4436||Kings, Manchester (for Reg Dearden)||27.10.49||Blower fitted 10.7.50|
|F10AB/1C/2537||RC4437||Van Rooyen, Rhodesia||20.7.49|
|F10AB/1C/2747||RC4647||Elder Smith, Sydney, Australia||2.9.49|
|F10AB/1C/2748||RC4648||Stan Marks, Manchester||12.10.49||Road trim|
|F10AB/1C/2749||RC4649||Indian Sales Corp, Springfield, USA||15.11.49||Show model|
|F10AB/1C/2752||RC4652||C.H.P.M. Motobyt, Poland (No.1)||29.11.49||for sidecar racing|
|F10AB/1C/3230||RC5130||C.H.P.M. Motobyt, Poland (No.2)||8.12.49||for sidecar racing|
|F10AB/1C/3641||RC5541||Villy Egen, Denmark||20.3.50|
|F10AB/1C/3642||RC5542||Villy Egen, Denmark||27.3.50|
|F10AB/1C/3686||RC5586||Elder Smith, Sydney, Australia||16.5.50|
|F10AB/1C/3687||RC5587||Malte Bohm, Sweden||26.6.50|
|F10AB/1C/3688||RC5588||Rollie Free, USA||5.8.50||6,400rpm in third, 141mph|
|F10AB/1C/3689||RC5589||Indian Sales Corp, Springfield, USA||3.9.50||Fitted with lights|
|F10AB/1C/4437||RC6337||Lohmann & Louis, Germany||26.9.50|
|F10AB/1C/4439||RC6339||Sven Kallin, Adelaide, Australia||4.9.51||Built for Garreau, Paris 27.10.50|
|F10AB/1C/7304||RC9204||Sven Kallin, Adelaide, Australia||4.9.51|
|F10AB/1C/7305||RC9205||W.A.McAlpine, London||25.7.51||Raced by Jack Ehret in Australia|
|F10AB/1C/8245||RC10145||Eastern Auto, Singapore||26.6.52|
|F10AB/1C/9469||RC11369||Eastern Auto, Singapore||26.6.52|
|F10AB/1C/9818||RC11718||Eastern Auto, Singapore||20.12.52||Shown at Earl's Court, purchased 1956|
This list totals 30 machines with a possible additional Lightnings listed
The list above now contains the Rollie Free "Bathing Suit "bike, which was the prototype Lightning.
Additional possible Black Lightnings
that require verification/documentation are listed below:
|F10AB/1C/1488||John Surtees bike. Currently in Italy- Collezione Motociclistica Milanese|
|F10AB/1C/10096||RC11996C||Sir Kegian Cycles, Los Angeles, Ca||00.00.55||Drag race bike|
|F10AB/2C/10160||RC12310||no notes on this one to date, need
input from owners
|F10AB/1C/xxxxx||RCxxxxxx||D engine in a C frame?|
|F10AB/1C/10335||RCxxxxx||Burns and Wright Lightning ?|
|F10AB/1C/11137 Currently has Brampton's and Sharrock Blower|
Note: The famous race bike Gunga Din, F10AB/1A/71, was the first Vincent with Mark 2 (Lightning) cams.
To complete any additions to the above list, please e-mail email@example.com
We are also looking for Grey Flash, Red Comet, and Red Rapide listings
or information that would be helpful to prospective owners or owners restoring
I thought that it would be interesting to explore the Lightnings
on his list that are not on John Marshall's list of 30 Black Lightnings
that appeared in MPH 421, Feb., 1984 and see what comments I get from Dave
Hills, Gordon Powell and others. For a complete list, you must see
that MPH and note that the Engine number of the last one listed should
/2C/10610 instead of /2C/10160 (most likely a typo).
I believe that 1B/900 was considered the first "Rapide, Black
Lightning" by the factory per some articles and posters that were published
and information from Phil Irving. 1A/4438 (or 1C) was a White Lightning
(or Black Lightning) and one of a series of three Lightnings, 4437, 4438
and 4439. The factory record for this bike shows both "1A" and "1C"
and "Black" and "White." A majority, 22, of Lightnings were produced
in batches of three (12), two (6) and four (4). 1C/10096 was a drag
which John Hanson now has the engine and UFM. 1C/10393 was the Burns and Wright streamliner. 1C/10552 was the Len Hardy bike. 2C/10696 was a dismantled Lightning that had the engine stolen from a pickup truck at a race in New York. The cycle parts are in New Jersey and part of the engine is in Jeff Gilbert's Lightning. A photograph of this bike is shown in Sid's book. All this per reliable sources and MPH. There may be a third Lightning, Series 'C' with a Series 'D' engine (/2C/ S/N),
considering that there seemed be three of each model - Rapide, Black Shadow, Comet - built during the Series 'D' period (beginning with Eng. No. 10588) and only two are accounted for here. This is something to ponder.
Steps to Lightning Ownership.
1. A complete, original Lightning is very expensive...plan accordingly.
2. Forget about buying one anytime soon. It takes at least a year to gather an information base large and deep enough to understand what Vincent afficianados will tell you about Lightnings. Experience counts.
3. Join the VOC.
4. Buy and study the Vincent books, attend the events, take pictures (gleeful memories are no substitute for 4x6 glossy sharp close-ups), talk to as many current/past Lightning owners as possible, refer to your treasured copy of the Black Lightning Special Parts List , and study alternative security systems. Once you have located the current object of your passion, pull your copy of Denis Minett's Notebook from under your pillow and see if the bike is listed. If not, start over. If it is listed (as I found many fakes are..), contact Gordon Powell (Machine Registrar for the VOC) to determine how many there are with that same number. There should be only one.
5. If you think you have located a genuine Lightning, plan on asking an experienced VOC member to look at the bike with you.
6. You know the rest. jim
Lightning Historical Information
Letter from Phil Vincent to Rollie Free
The John Edgar/Rollie Free "Bathing Suit"Lightning
Open request for detail help on Vincent Black Lightning motorcycles:
1. I would like help on period photos of new Lightnings,
similiar to above. Does anyone one have such photo documentation on their
Lightnings? Or are there archive photos available?
The purpose would be to view several installations of :
Oil vent routing (note routing on above factory drawings)
Sparkplug wire material and routing
Exhaust pipe options (many original Lightnings had special very thin exhaust pipes)
Rear sprocket use on left side
Magneto vent tubing material and routing
Front brake cable material color
Use of rubber or metal "wire ties" (John Bull or ?)
Chain size options
Paper tags or stickers
2. I would like to know about paper tagging or stickers that would have
been on a Vincent motorcycle the day it was new! Did they have a set of
break-in instructions on a paper tag under the gas cap? or tag indicating
use of fuel (benzene/petrol)? paper tags on Lucas items? stickers on instrumentation?
stickers on the rims indicating brand name? Stickers on shocks, cables,
oil lines, fenders, wheel weights, chokes, advance, throttle, levers, carbs,
magneto, or other parts I haven't thought of ?
Additional Lightning info or suggestions to improve this page are welcomed!