Minichamps MIN122134500 1950 Vincent-HRD Series C Black Shadow Motorcycle (1:12 Scale)
"The Ducati 900 is so finely engineered and balanced and torqued that you can do 90 mph in fifth through a 35-mph zone and get away with it. The bike is not just fast -- it is extremely quick and responsive, and it will do amazing things.... It is a little like riding the original Vincent Black Shadow, which would outrun an F-86 jet fighter on the takeoff runway, but at the end, the F-86 would go airborne and the Vincent would not, and there was no point in trying to turn it."
- Hunter S. Thompson, excerpted from his essay taken from Cycleworld Magazine called "Song of the Sausage Creature"
The Vincent Black Shadow was a hand-built motorcycle produced by Vincent Motorcycles and introduced in 1948. The series "C" (introduced in the early 1950s) had a 998 cc 50 degree OHV V-twin engine. It ran 7.3:1 compression ratio.
The original model was the Vincent Rapide, however due to demand for a more "Sports oriented model", the Black Shadow was introduced. The model became so popular that the production of the Black Shadow exceed the production numbers of the original "Rapide" model. The Black Shadow was a "Stressed Frame" design. The engine, instead of being cradled in a set of frame rails, was suspended from above becoming an integeral part of the structure. The Black Shadow as well as the other post WWII Vincents featured several new technological innovations such as a unique and original alternative to the primitive telescopic front forks of the day, a sprung rear sub-frame, the extensive use of aluminum alloy and a unit construction stressed engine. It weighed in at 207 kg (458 lb). This was about the weight of a pre-war 500 cc bike.
The inspiration for the Black Shadow arose from Royal Air Force pilots flying their planes over the factory, and from soldiers serving in WWII. The designers created a motorcycle that could be operated and maintained by men who had been injured in combat. The clutch could be operated with just two fingers, and maintenance was made far easier than anything previously available.
The "Black" Shadow derived its name from the fact that the entire bike (including the engine) was coated with black paint. The reason for the black paint on the cylinder block is still disputed to this day. Some claim that the black paint was for looks, others claim that it had something to do with heat transfer and dissipation. Whatever the original reason behind the painting of the engine, it was very different from anything else at a time when everything was polished and chromed.
Pictured here is a 1:12 scale replica of a 1950 Vincent-HRD Series C Black Shadow. Comes with a kickstand and packaged in a handsome presentation case.
Release Date: April 2008
Historical Account: "The Bathing Suit Picture" - The famous picture of a man stretched out in only a bathing suit on a Vincent is not in fact a Black Shadow but a Black Lightning. The Black Lightning was a custom order from the factory and was some 100 pounds lighter and 25 hp more powerful than the stock Black Shadow. In one of his books, Phil Irving (the designer) said that there were only about 16 of the model produced. The Black Lightning is the fastest Vincent ever produced.
As for the famous "bathing suit bike" picture, it is of Rollie Free, an American, riding on the Bonneville Salt Flats on September 13th, 1948. Free was determined to break the land speed record in the "Flying Mile." His first pass hit 148 mph (238 km/h), which broke the record, but Free was determined to break 150.
Noticing that his riding leathers had started to come apart at the seams from the force of the wind, Free borrowed a bathing suit, cap, and a pair of tennis shoes and laid down on the bike. With the decreased drag, Free broke 150 mph, topping out at 150.313 mph (241.905 km/h), shattering his record of only a few moments before. That bike, also known as the "John Edgar Lightning" after its sponsor, is currently in the private collection of Herb Harris of Austin, Texas. (courtesy: Wikipedia)