Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vincent Black Shadow in the Basement

Black Shadow in the Basement

A friend of mine called me a few months back. He's a noted hunter of Vincent Motorcycles, finding several of them in his time. His mission is to bring them back into the light, to be shared and put to use again as their maker, Philip Vincent would have intended. He's found another bike after a 30 year search.

The story of the Vincent  HRD company begins in the early post World War I days with young racer Howard Raymond Davies  winning at the Isle of Man TT races. He boldly decided to make his own machines, with brought in J.A.P. engines to again win the TT in 1925. Phil Vincent bought the company a few years later during one of the many financial difficulties the company would face that eventually led to its demise. But before the end, their was glory of the highest order achieved with Australian Phil Irving joining the company and helping launch the 500 cc Meteor and Comet that would ultimately provide the inspiration for the most significant Vincent of all. The 1,000 cc V-twin series beginning with the Rapide, the Black Shadow, the Black Lightning, Black Prince, and Black Knight.

One of the best loved and most popular of the classic series V-twin Vincents was the Black Shadow. This one had two prior owners before the long-term ownership that my friend Bill purchased it from. He'd known about the bike for 30 years and doggedly pursued the owner to remind him that he would be proud to be the owner. Well, he finally closed the deal and brought along his nephew to assist in extracating the machine from its basement prison, where is was hidden under a pile of life's accumulations.Vincent motorcycles can be easily dismantled, if you know what you're doing and you brought the right tools. After a heavy dose of cunning and muscle, the bike taken in three easy pieces out the window and into his truck.

This was the first public showing of the bike (at Oakbourne Mansion, West Chester, PA) , but the bike will be featured as part of a celebration of Vincent HRD, Brough Superior and pre-1974 250cc motorcycles at the well-known Philadelphia Simeone Foundation Museum. The motorcycle will be at the museum from August 16-Sept 12, 2014. Special guest speaker will be Matthew Biberman, author of "Big Sids Vincati.

The finder of this Black Shadow in a Basement is not just a bottom dweller, searching cellars for rusty gold. He rides and restores his own machine. That's his daily rider below. It will be feaured in our poster for the event and was taken of one of his bikes earlier this year by noted automotive photographer, Michael Furman. Behold.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Motorcycle Investors Newsletter 2014

Glenn Bator owns Bator International in Ojai, California. I've recently joined the team at Bator International to assist our East Coast buyers and sellers. The latest issue of the Motorcycle Investor from Bator International can be found at , It's 100 % free and offers insight into current auction trends as well as coverage of collectable motorcycles. Check it out !


Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Lords of Laconia

The Belknap Vintage Classic Road Races at the Gunstock Ski Area in Gilford, New Hampshire were last held in 1999. The race was the brainchild of Robert ' Bob' Coy , USCRA chief. It was run on the original Laconia race course where so much AMA racing took place before moving to Bryar Motorsports Park and eventually  Loudon New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  Here's a few images from a very memorable weekend on the tight track that runs though the trees.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance 2013

Dick Klamfoth, Winner of the Daytona 200 Race in 1949, 1951  and 1952 was the Special Guest this year at the 17th Annual Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance which featured Norton Motorcycles, Flat Track Racers and Art Deco inspired Motorcycles. Mr. Klamfoth is a true American icon of the Class C period of  AMA racing, having put his stamp on the legendary rough and tumble motorcycle race on the famed Daytona Beach three times. He won 12 AMA National races and many other events primarily on Nortons, but also threw a leg over BSA and Honda machines as well.

In addition to the fifty motorcycles, the show featured a top shelf collection of 100 Automobiles including Aston Marton, Porsche, Rally Cars and Art Deco period vehicles. Radnor Hunt is a unique venue in that it is also America's oldest Fox Hunt Club and where the annual RH Steeplechase races take place too. In addition  to the cars and bikes, antique carriages and sleighs were also shown. Here's some of the highlights of the weekend.


A long line on Manx Nortons  blended well with Porsches of the same period on the terrace. 

That's Dick Klamfoth's BSA Gold Star racer, recently retrieved from the family barn in which it lay hidden for nearly fifty years in 'as last raced' trim.

An Art Deco period French drop top with picture perfect picnic kit.

1938 Talbot Lago 150SS Teardrop coupe

Kenny Cummings brought  his NYC built Seeley G50, a superb blend of modern engineering skills  and classic components that just may be the ultimate weapons grade race tackle available these days for historic racing.

That's a 1928 Norton CS1 being judged in the Historic Preservation Class

Flat Trackers included this alloy head Harley-Davidson XR-750
and #87 an Aermacchi built Harley-Davidson CRTT

Dick Klamfoth and Dick Miles share a laugh on the stage during trophy presentation
Judges Michael Lawless and AMA Hall of Fame member Nobby Clark scrutinized the 1948 Manx and other classic racing Nortons. Having someone with first hand knowledge of how the machines were built is a tremendous asset when judging.

Carin Beam strikes a pose with the colorful Norton Manxman.

The man who first put Triumph motorcycles on the map in America with a win at the AMA 100 mile National at Laconia in 1953, AMA Hall of Fame member, Ed Fisher, rode his 1929 Indian both on and off the showfield.

 Tony Karas, owner of the JPN Norton takes a well deserved trophy and a handshake
from Special Guest Dick Klamfoth

Radnor Hunt motorcycle judge Michael 'Tex' Mawby checks out  #44, a 1963 Norton Manx model 30m, built on the last day of production. # 309 is another Norton Manx, the AHRMA 500 Premiere class eight-time championship machine of builder Maurice Candy and rider Tim Joyce, the fastest Manx in the USA.

Winner of the Art Deco class, the 1948 Indian Chief owned by David Markel

Horses, Hounds and Carriages, a way of life at Radnor Hunt Club



The ex-Stirling Moss 1958 Aston Martin DBR1, the sexiest car ever made in the U. K.?

RHC Executive Board Member and Motorcycle Chairman,
 John Lawless and wife Dawn Lawless with the
1923 Norton with sidecar of owner Mustfa Terhani.

Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 Classic Motorcycles at the Simeone Museum featuring Norton and Flat Track Racers

Above photo by Michael Furman,
all others by Matt Smith of
unless noted. 
Simeone Museum Foundation creator, Dr. Frederick Simeone with a rare 1932 Norton Inter 500cc, an ex-TT works machine in good original condition. The Simeone Museum houses a world class collection  of sports racing cars.  Dr. Simeone opened the fifth annual Classic Motorcycles at the Simeone exhibit in style and with some very special guests slated to speak that evening.

2013 Special Guest, Brian Slark

No less than three AMA Hall of Fame members graced the Simeone Museum for one very memorable night on August 24, 2013. Most recent inductee Brian Slark, Technical Director of the Barber Museum in Birmingham, Alabama was the featured speaker. Brian shared stories of his days as a employee of AMC Motorcycles in the UK in the 1950's and 1960's. He was a keen off-road rider as well and that would factor heavily in his decision to emigrate to the USA in the 1960's. The lure of sunny, warm California and the promise of endless riding was too much to turn down. Once here, he found himself immersed in the burgeoning motocross scene and started the next chapter of his lengthy career. As the years rolled by and his experience and knowledge grew, he was tapped to head up the ground-breaking Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. After taking that show on the road, he settled down in Birmingham, Alabama to help assemble the greatest collection of motorcycles the world has ever seen in one place, The Barber Museum.

Brian Slark with host John Lawless

Cook Neilson with Rich Lambreth, our 'Birthday Boys'.
Nobby  looks on as Cook contemplates the essential first cut of the cake.

Arguably the greatest motorcycle Grand Prix mechanic of all time, Derek 'Nobby' Clark was on hand to share Brian's special night, too. Nobby gave a heartfelt introduction to Cook Neislon, who graciously told the audience a little about why 'Slarkie' and 'Nobby' stood head and shoulders above the rivals in their respective fields. That he chose to spend his birthday with this group and his dear friends was just one more reason why you have to love Cook and his enthusiasm for life and celebrating good times with friends old and new.

Nortons were the order of the evening, so many were on display representing all eras of the famous Bracebridge street marque. After viewing them, we think you'll agree with their ad slogan from the 1950's , 'The Unapproachable Nortons'. Late in the evening, three machines were chosen to represent the best of their eras. A 1922 AJS single, a 1955/65 Norton Dominator Special and a 1963 Norton Manx 500cc, built on the last day of production. The two number 44 Nortons, were both photographed by Michael Furman specifically for the Classic Motorcycles at the Simeone Museum show. They are offered as posters at the museum.

photo by Michael Furman

Virginia based collecor Mustafa Terhani brought his 1922 AJS to demonstrate for the audience as is the custom at the museum, to see wheels in motion. To hear and smell the bikes as well.

The eight-time AHRMA 500 Premier Class Championship machine, built by Wilmington, De based Norton tuner, Maurice Candy. It's a highly refined 500cc Norton Manx that reflects what it takes to win at this level. This machine was clocked at Daytona Speedway in excess of 150 mph.

From Left: Norton Legend, Maurice Candy was congratulated by
 fellow Norton racer and tuner Dick Miles. 

Maryland based Bob McKeever on his 500cc Norton International at Daytona Beach for the 200 mile race in 1948 where he finished 14th. Bob has run Champagne Racing for over a decade now winning innumerable races on their brace of Nortons with rider Alex McLean and tuner Nobby Clark.


Mike Lawless from  and John Light from
Evans Cooling enjoy the festivities.


The most original complete matching numbers long stroke 500cc Norton Manx extant.
The show will run until Friday, September 6, 2013. The motorcycles are moved to nearby Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elgance to be part of the prestegious show on September 8 with Special Guest three-time Daytona 200 Winner, Dick Klamfoth.