The second-ever Vincent Black Lightning will be sold at Bonhams' Barber auction.
Rollie Free's capture of the "world's fastest production motorcycle" record in 1948 on a tuned Series B Black Shadow led directly to Vincent marketing a racer of similar specification to Free's machine: the Series C Black Lightning.
This Vincent Black Lightning — frame no. RC3548, engine no. F10AB/1C/1648 — was the second one built, completed in January 1949. It was ordered for Hans Stärkle, a rider for the NSU works team, during the Earls Court Motorcycle Show in October 1948, where the first Black Lightning was displayed on the Vincent Stand. Stärkle, who had already won three European Championships for NSU, raced RC3548 in the Unlimited Class with a sidecar attached. The Black Lightning was sold in May 1952 to a Mr. Amrein of Basel, Switzerland.
Amrein rode the Lightning to the works at Stevenage, England, to have it converted for road use, obtaining lights, silencer, pillion seat, footrests, etc. He sold the Vincent to its third owner, a Mr. Duffner of Weil am Rhein, Germany, in 1955. In 1961, the Black Lightning was sold to its fourth owner, a Mr. Kuttler, also from Weil am Rhein. After encountering engine trouble, Kuttler took the engine apart but never completed the repair, and in 1968 sold the machine to its present (fifth) owner, Ernst Hegeler.Ernst rebuilt the Vincent and had it road-registered in 1971. He covered approximately 30,000 accident-free miles on long-distance trips all across Europe.
By 2000, Ernst had decided to return the Black Lightning to its former glory and original racing specification. Ernst rode the Black Lightning exclusively on non-competitive presentation runs, with no accidents or technical failures whatsoever.
Now, after 50 years of enjoyable ownership, Ernst has decided to pass on this magnificent machine, which is still in pristine running condition, to the fortunate next owner. Bonhams is extraordinarily pleased to present RC3548 at their inaugural auction at the Barber Vintage Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, on Oct. 6, 2018.