Minichamps MIN122134600 1955 Vincent-HRD Black Lightning Motorcycle - Black (1:12 Scale)
"The World's Fastest Standard Motorcycle - This is a fact, not a slogan!"
- Advertisement for the Black Lightning Motorcycle
It was with the introduction in 1948 of the fully race-prepared Vincent Black Lightning that Vincent produced the most legendary motorcycle of its time. The Black Lightning was advertised as The World's Fastest Standard Motorcycle - This is a fact, not a slogan! - a claim it could have made right up until the release of the 900 cc Kawasaki Z1, 20 years later in 1972. (This same claim had been made in advertising before, for the earlier fastest Vincents)
Around 30 Vincent Black Lightnings were built during 1949-52. They were available on special order, selling for $1,500.
The Black Lightning had magnesium alloy brake backing plates, racing tires on lightweight alloy rims, rear-set pegs, a solo racing seat and aluminum fenders. All these helped trim the Lightning's weight to 380 lb. (The Black Shadow was 458 lb)
The Black Lightning had higher lift cams, stronger connecting rods, bigger inlet ports, polished rocker gear, steel idler gears, racing carburetors, a manual-advance magneto and could be ordered with compression ratios from 6.8:1 to 12.5:1. The engine was rated at 70 hp (52 kW), and was said to propel the Black Lightning to 150 mph.
The proof of the advertisement's claim came in 1948, when an Indian Motorcycle dealer, Rollie Free, riding the very first Vincent-HRD Black Lightning built, raised the motorcycle speed record to 150.313 mph (241.905 km/h) on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. Initially wearing full leathers, he could only achieve 147 mph (237 km/h), and his leathers had been flapping so violently at that speed as to tear. He removed his riding apparel, and wearing a bathing cap, speedos, and a pair of sneakers, set out for another attempt, and set the new record. A fast car with photographer aboard followed, and took the famous "bathing suit bike" picture.
Pictured here is a 1:12 scale diecast replica of a 1955 Vincent-HRD Black Lightning motorcycle. Comes with a kickstand and packaged in a handsome presentation case. Pre-order! Ship Date: 2014.
Length: 7 inches
Height: 3.50 inches
Release Date: ?
Historical Account: "Rumor and Sigh" - Russell Wright set a 1954 New Zealand speed record of 140 mph (230 km/h) on a Black Lightning at the Tram Road Speed Trials. At the meeting he met Rapide owner Robert "Bob" Burns who had built a streamliner shell for a sidecar record attempt. They formed a partnership for Bob to supply a streamliner shell for Russell's solo world record attempt, if Russell let him use the Black Lightning for his sidecar world record attempt. In December 1954 Bob Burns went first and set a new F.I.M. World Sidecar record of 157 mph (253 km/h), up from 154 mph (248 km/h). On the 2nd of July 1955, Russell Wright set a new F.I.M. world speed record of 185 mph (298 km/h) on the Tram Road at Swannanoa, near Christchurch, while Bob Burns upped his sidecar record to 163.06 mph.
Despite successful record attempts, other publicity relating to problems with the gearbox selector camplate damped America's buying enthusiasm. A new shifting mechanism was incorporated for 1953, but the sales damage had already been done.
The English folk Musician Richard Thompson wrote a song called "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" about this motorcycle on the album Rumor and Sigh. (courtesy: Wikipedia)