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$929,000 Vincent Black Lightning sets new world auction record

A rare and historic Vincent Black Lightning has become the world’s most valuable motorcycle, after it sold for $929,000 at Bonhams in Las Vegas this week.
British manufacturer Vincent originally designed the Black Lightning in the late 1940s, as the racing version of their famous Black Shadow.

At the time it was the world’s fastest production motorcycle, with a top speed of 150mph, but only 31 examples were produced between 1948 and 1952.

Today those machines are rare and highly sought-after by collectors – but this bike had an extra significance.

The example sold at Bonhams, number 7305, was built to order in 1951 and shipped to Australia.

It was there that motorcycle racer Jack Ehret rode it to a new Australian land speed record, achieving an average speed of 141.5mph at Gunnedah in New South Wales.

Another of those 31 machines was owned by American racer Rollie Free, who famously used it to break the U.S speed record in 1948 wearing nothing more than swimming shorts and a bathing cap.

"Rollie Free and Marty Dickerson, both legends in the Vincent universe, knew of this motorcycle and Ehret’s acclaim," said Ben Walker, Bonhams Head of Motorcycling.

"After the ‘Bathing Suit Bike’ ridden by Free, the Ehret bike is likely the most important Black Lightning in existence and is one of the world’s most desirable machines."

Jack Ehret owned the bike for more than 50 years, riding it to countless victories throughout his career, before it was consigned to auction at Bonhams.

The Black Lightning remained in remarkably original condition, and was virtually unrestored since its record-breaking run in 1953.

The previous auction record for a motorcycle had stood since 2015, when a 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer formerly owned by Steve McQueen sold at Mecum in Las Vegas for $852,500.

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