Come October 6, and the gavel will drop on one of the most storied motorcycles of all time: a 1949 Vincent Black Lightning and “On Any Sunday” fame 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross. Both motorcycles will be auctioned at the Barber Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
Search for the name ‘Vincent Black Lightning’ on the web and you might look at pictures depicting an old standard motorcycle that hardly looks anything different from the peers of its days. Little would a layman guess that this bike is in fact repeatedly alluded to as the two-wheeled equivalent of the ultra exotic Ferrari 250 GTO. And like the Italian, this Brit rarely, if ever, surfaces for auction. The rarity has actually happened and a Vincent Black Lightning will indeed be up for auction in October.
The Vincent Black Lightning is a cohesive mix of advanced (for its time) engineering, evocative design, and motorsports success. Only 30 of these fine bikes were ever built, taking its exclusivity several notches up. The Black Lightning going up for auction at the Barber Vintage Motorsport is actually the second one produced and has full ownership papers and service history backing its claim. It was ordered new for NSU factory team racer Hans Stärkle. Little wonder then, that collectors all over the world will be eyeing this piece of British metal hoping it would find its pride of place in their garage. Bonhams, the auctioneer firm that is handling the sale of the bike had previously auctioned off another Vincent a few months earlier for a little less than $1 million. So naturally, this Lightning ain’t gonna be cheap.
The other motorcycle going up for auction is something of a celebrity in its own right. Why, you ask? Well, this particular 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross was piloted by Steve McQueen himself in the famous motorcycle documentary “On Any Sunday”. That is sure to raise the wow factor of the little Husky in addition to its asking price. This example comes with full documentation, including a California DMV ownership card naming Solar Productions, Steve McQueen’s production company. Also included is McQueen’s entry form for the 1970 Saddleback 500 Senior Race, and a lucky penny- an uncirculated ¢1 coin minted in 1960 (McQueen’s son Chad’s birth year). Both items were found stashed away in a cavity between the engine and the frame of the Husky 400.
“The significance of these two motorcycles can’t be underscored enough,” says Ben Walker, Bonhams Head of Motorcycles. “One is truly a legend in every regard and the other is monumentally iconic. We’ve offered a multitude of important motorcycles at Bonhams over the years but these are real standouts.”