Most enthusiasts are familiar with the famous “bathing suit” shot of Rollie Free on the 150-mile-per-hour Vincent Black Lightning at Bonneville in 1948. Or Marty Dickerson on “The Blue Bike” Vincent a few years later.
Now another famous but lesser-known Black Lightning is coming up for auction at the Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale, January 25, 2018, at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Ridden by Australian racer and record holder Jack Ehret, serial number 7305 Black Lightning is one of some 30 such models built by the factory in Stevenage, England. It was originally purchased by Tony McAlpine and sent to Australia. The 1951 Vincent, unrestored and in running condition, is being recommissioned by Vincent expert Patrick Godet.
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“Rollie Free and Marty Dickerson, both legends in the Vincent universe, knew of this motorcycle and Ehret’s acclaim,” says Ben Walker, Bonhams Head of Motorcycling. “After the ‘Bathing Suit Bike,’ the Ehret bike is likely the most important Black Lightning in existence and represents an exceptional opportunity to acquire one of the world’s most desirable machines.”
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Bonhams provides additional history: “At the time of its build, another well-known Vincent nicknamed “Gunga Din” was undergoing work in the factory. Upon completion of both, the two machines were contested at an airfield where it was said that McAlpine’s bike was a clear 30 yards ahead of Gunga Din, and factory records later indicated speeds in excess of 130mph in third gear.
“Most important, however, was that in 1953 the McAlpine-ordered motorcycle smashed the existing Australian speed record when Jack Ehret achieved an average speed of 141.5mph. Under the ownership of Ehret, the Black Lightning would also clinch numerous race victories throughout Australia and become renowned around the globe.”
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A price has yet to be set, but the Vincent is expected to sell for more than $250,000.