The ex-John Ulver, original and reaching 124mph at Bonneville Salt Flats, 1955 Vincent 998cc Black Series-D Shadow 

The ex-John Ulver, original and reaching 124mph at Bonneville Salt Flats

1955 Vincent 998cc Black Series-D Shadow

Introduced in 1946, the Vincent series B twin was certainly fast, and the Black Shadow, announced in 1948 was even faster, with a top speed of around 125 mph. The Series B machines were supplanted by the Series C bikes in 1949, which ran through to 1954.

For 1955 the series D was announced with a number of improvements. The crankcases were die castings for the first time; the cylinder heads became interchangeable with the adoption of the front head pattern for both cylinders; the new, state-of-the-art Amal Monobloc carbs replaced the inefficient and leaky 289s; coil ignition was fitted to improve starting; suspension was improved; the gloriously effective hand-operated center stand appeared. They could be ordered with fiberglass enclosures to give a sleek streamlined, gentleman’s tourer appearance, named Black Knight and Black Prince. However, the bikes were also available ‘naked’, without enclosures, and in this form retained the traditional model names of Rapide and Black Shadow.

The motorbike offered

This naked Series D Black Shadow was purchased by Vincent aficionado, racer, restorer, historian and technical reference, John Ulver in 1975 in Washington state. In 1976 with an engine in need of attention, he stripped and rebuilt it to his own exacting standards. The proof of the quality of his work can be gauged by the fact that the year after, 1977, he took the bike to Bonneville Salt Flats, and was recorded at 124.82mph. The Shadow was used every year thereafter for rallies and for touring in the USA and Canada, covering many miles. It is fitted with a pair of Craven panniers, and the front brakes have been uprated to a pair of twin leading shoe brakes to enhance stopping power, although the original brakeplates and shoes accompany the bike.

The bike stayed in regular use until it moved to the UK in 2018, but due to health problems which have curtailed the owner’s riding career, he sold his much-loved machine last summer. Needing only light re-commissioning, this wonderfully original and steeped in patina bike is now available for sale.