CW Garage: Tim Ivers' 1951 Series-C Vincent Black Shadow - First Look

From basket case to hot-rod.

CW Garage: Tim Ivers

I'd like you to take a look at my hot-rod Vincent. It is a '51 Series C Black Shadow that I bought years ago as a basket case for $7000 and restored at home in my garage. I did all the work myself except for the painting. The engine has stock bore and stroke numbers, but it has high-compression pistons. The heads are ported and polished, and the aftermarket cams sport huge duration, lift and overlap. The ignition is a Lucas Rita electronic unit firing two plugs per cylinder, which greatly reduces the spark advance required. The carbs are Amal Mark I concentrics set up by "Big Sid" Biberman. (Listen to Biberman discuss all things Vincent on the CW Radio podcast. Download the April 12 episode, hour two.)

The pipes are called "Shadow 70s." The front pipe goes under the engine and exits on the left side, which required removing the front stands and magneto cover, but I think it looks better without them. The pipes have small baffles in them. The wheels are Akront aluminum, 18-inch in back and 19-inch in front so I could use modern and sticky Avon tires. The front brakes, clutch, footpeg brackets and seat are Black Lightning replica parts. It also has matching Smiths chronometric speedometer and tachometer, a very rare setup.

I intended the bike to be a rider that uses some modern components to improve reliability and rideability but still keep it unmistakably Vincent. It starts on the first kick and runs well; the midrange roll-on is very strong. With the short straight pipes and big cams, the engine erupts instead of merely starting. It is loud, raucous and doesn't sound like any other bike; it sounds like a Vincent ought to sound. The brakes require a little planning ahead and the clutch has the engagement span of a toggle switch, but it still makes me smile every time I ride it. I hope you like it, as well. Thanks for looking.