Yesterday, a Vincent Black Lightning broke the world’s motorcycle auction sales record, selling for $929,000 US.
The Bonhams auction was the same sale where these Von Dutch artpieces were sold (mostly for much more than predicted). It was held at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
All Vincent Black Lightning motorcycles are desirable, with only 30 examples produced, but this bike had a particularly storied past; this 1951 model was exported from England to Australia, where it set a top speed record for that country/continent at 141.5 mph. Its performance down under was no surprise; in testing, this bike had hit 131 mph on a test track in third gear—a performance level unheard-of for those times.
The motorcycle was used in other racing victories over the years, and was sold in unrestored, running condition. The photo above shows it in use during its heyday, with rider Jack Ehret behind the bars. Ehret owned this motorcycle for more than 50 years, reportedly.
The previous record price for a motorcycle auction was $825,500 US, for a Cyclone board racer that had been owned by Steve McQueen. That was a Mid-America auction 2015.
The constant upward trend in these sales is indicative of the classic motorcycle collector scene as a whole. While ignored for many years as motor enthusiasts chased vintage cars, classic bikes have now started to draw attention for their affordability (at least when compared to equivalent cars—not many riders have $929,000 US in their sock drawer, waiting for a rainy day). The increased attention, ironically, is starting to hike the prices of the motorcycles.
For more details of the history behind the Black Lightning model, visit here.