Maggie the Abandoned Beasty: A 1949 Vincent Black Shadow

1 / 11
1949 Vincent Black Shadow
2 / 11
1949 Vincent Black Shadow handlebar
3 / 11
Tachometer is from a Vincent Grey Flash.
4 / 11
Rare Lucas KVF-TT racing magneto (right) was another surprise.
5 / 11
1949 Vincent Black Shadow
6 / 11
1949 Vincent Black Shadow
7 / 11
Owner Glenn Bewley with Maggie.
8 / 11
As found: Dehydrator plugs were screwed into the spark plug threads and inserted into corks in the carburetors.
9 / 11
As found: Dehydrator plugs were screwed into the spark plug threads and inserted into corks in the carburetors.
10 / 11
1949 Vincent Black Shadow
11 / 11
Lucky man: Friend Jake Hall gives Maggie a run through the hills of Tennessee in front of Glenn’s camera.

The mythical Vincent in the barn. It’s the holy grail of vintage motorcycles, the find every vintage motorcycle junkie dreams about. And sometimes, the dream comes true.

This all started one night with a phone call from an old friend. He’d been contacted by a man in Philadelphia whose company had purchased a home at a tax foreclosure sale. A cleanup crew had gone to empty the house, and cleaning the garage out the crew came upon an older, unfamiliar motorcycle. They sought the advice of my friend, who runs a vintage motorcycle website. I specialize in Vincent restoration, so he pointed them my way.

The people on the Philadelphia end really knew nothing of motorcycles. They sent some photographs showing a Vincent, and I spent several hours over several nights talking to the owners about what they had found. Initially, I thought it was just a beater Black Shadow with some nice parts. They said they appreciated my help and that they would have to figure out what they were going to do with the bike, and would get back to me. Things went quiet.

Months later, I called the Philadelphia people and asked if the Vincent had been sold: It had not — they had moved it to a garage and basically forgotten about it. My call reminded them they needed to sell it, so they asked me for a figure I would be willing to pay. They pulled me up a bit, and a deal was set.

First blush

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine Featuring the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!