Back in the 1950s, most road-legal motorcycles lacked wind protection. Unless you were racing, fairings weren’t widely adopted by the industry. However, Vincent owner Phil Vincent felt it was time for a change when he conceived the Black Knight and Black Prince. The former was a fully-faired variant of the brand’s Rapide model while the latter clad the Vincent Shadow in aerodynamic bodywork as well.
Phil Vincent believed that the Knight and Prince's stately appearances qualified them as a “gentleman’s motorcycle”. They went into production in 1954, but Vincent was only able to manufacture 200 examples before going into administration (bankruptcy) in 1955.
Due to the low production numbers and even lower demand, the Black Knight and Black Prince never achieved mass adoption. Despite the fact that the Black Prince handled as well as the Black Shadow and returned better fuel consumption, there weren’t enough gentlemen lining up for Vincent’s elevated motorcycle.
The enclosed rear, large side panels, leg fairings, and large windshield were a vast departure from motorcycles of the day. Many see the rare Vincents as motorcycles ahead of their time, as fully-faired motorcycles later gained popularity in the 1970s. The trend continues with today’s offerings, but many Black Knight and Black Prince owners ditched the encapsulating bodywork over time.
For that reason, fully-faired examples command around $100,000 these days. Of course, with a significant number of owners stripping the Black Knight of its armor, collectors can get a piece of the faired Vincents at a reduced cost. Bonhams is currently holding an auction for a full set of Black Knight bodywork for $2,800 to $5,700. The auction ends on July 3, 2021, so hurry over to the Bonhams site to bid.
Yes, this Vincent Black Knight is a shell of itself. No, you won’t be able to ride it. You may also need a sculpture garden or spacious garage to store it, but the Black Knight fairing is certainly a coveted piece of Vincent, and motorcycling, history.