Record-Setting 1951 Vincent Black Lightning Sells for $929,000 at Auction

1951 Vincent Black Lightning
The 1951 Black Lightning was sold in original, unrestored condition. Photos courtesy of Bonham’s.

To the sound of cheers and applause in a packed ballroom at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Bonhams – led by auctioneer Malcolm Barber –  just sold Jack Ehret’s rare, original condition, British-made, Australian speed record-setting, 1951 Vincent Black Lightning motorcycle for $929,000, making it the one of the most valuable motorcycles ever sold at auction.

Built by special order and imported into Australia by Tony McAlpine, the Vincent Black Lightning, no. 7305, is one of just approximately 30 Black Lightning models ever built by the Stevenage, England factory.
1951 Vincent Black Lightning
Photo courtesy of Bonham’s.

At the time of its build, another well-known Vincent nicknamed “Gunga Din” was undergoing work in the factory. Upon completion of both, the two machines were contested at an airfield, where it was said that McAlpine’s bike was a clear 30 yards ahead of Gunga Din, and factory records later indicated speeds in excess of 130 mph in third gear.

1951 Vincent Black Lightning
Photo courtesy of Bonham’s.

Most important, however, was that in 1953 the McAlpine motorcycle smashed the existing Australian speed record when new owner Jack Ehret achieved an average speed of 141.5 mph. Under the ownership of Ehret, the Black Lightning would also clinch numerous race victories throughout Australia and become renowned around the globe.

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1951 Vincent Black Lightning
Photo courtesy of Bonham’s.

“Rollie Free and Marty Dickerson, both legends in the Vincent universe, knew of this motorcycle and Ehret’s acclaim,” says 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.”

1951 Vincent Black Lightning
Photo courtesy of Bonham’s.

In original, unrestored and running condition, recommissioned by none other than Vincent master Patrick Godet, this tremendously important and rare Black Lightning was in Ehret’s ownership for nearly 50 years.

1951 Vincent Black Lightning
Photo courtesy of Bonham’s.

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