Dawn in the desert was cool on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats on September 13, 1948. Later that morning, a motorcycle and Indianapolis 500 racer and sometime service station manager donned a Speedo-style bathing suit, a bathing cap and sneakers. Then, Rollie Free mounted a Vincent Black Lightning, a hopped-up version of the 1000cc British v-twin, which was then the fastest production motorcycle in the world. Running down the salt supine on the bike, with his legs stretched behind him and toes pointed like a high diver, Free broke the 150mph barrier and the U.S. motorcycle speed record.
A speeding car had captured a picture of the hurtling black Vincent with Free on top, seemingly floating in the white background of the endless salt flats. When it was published in Life magazine, the Vincent burst into the psyche of both American motorcycling and a startled public.
After the war, the British public was not allowed to buy goods that could generate foreign exchange by being exported, and Vincent looked to the US market. A modified design of the 1000cc v-twin Rapide was the Black Shadow. Americans who saw its enameled engine cases and gearbox and 150 mile per hour speedometer were awestruck and purchasers enjoyed 100mph cruising and a top speed of 125mph.
However, the consigned machine is a rare White Shadow. Unlike the "Black" models - Prince, Shadow and Lightning, it eschewed black, stove enamel engine cases, to be sold with bare metal cases instead. This machine comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the Vincent Owner's Club, as well as documents like the factory Dispatch Check Sheet, Works Order Form and Specification Sheet. The second owner was a Frank Alexander, who purchased this Vincent in 1955. When he bought the bike, the frame had been painted a non-standard color some believe was gold. Alexander was a wealthy Vincent enthusiast, well connected at the factory. From the gold color scheme it was repainted in Chinese Red livery and remained as such until purchased several years ago by the vendor. Upon purchase it was sent to marque expert, Sam Manganaro for a full and correct restoration, returning the frame and tinware to the original black with Vincent's trademark gold striping. Its rarity as a White Shadow is assured by its gleaming metal cases, full factory documentation and matching numbers. This is a turnkey opportunity that will allow the owner immediate riding pleasure plus providing entrée to the premier elite shows and tours of the International motorcycle world.