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1949 Vincent White Shadow & Swallow Jet Sidecar

Guide Price: £60,000 - £70,000

The Background

Based on the iconic Vincent Black Shadow, the White Shadow is an even rarer beast with only 17 examples built. 
The White Shadow name came about because the engine castings were polished rather than black enamelled, as they were on the Black Shadow models. Otherwise, the White Shadow was mechanically identical, with the same 125mph performance, making it the fastest bike in the world at that time.
This outfit has one of only 17 White Shadow engines made but it is important to note that it is not a matching-numbers bike. If it was, then it would be worth a stratospheric amount. As it stands, it’s still an exceptionally charming set-up and is well known to the Vincent Owners’ Club, which has confirmed, in writing, that F10AB/1A/3240 is a genuine White Shadow engine.
The sidecar is a Swallow Jet 90 – A Blackpool company’s creation famous for its ‘Silk Ride’ Isolastic body suspension.  Swallow Sidecars evolved into Jaguar Cars after several iterations, so it’s not surprising that there was some cutting-edge design and innovation involved.

The History

VMT 716 was re-registered in 1980 and carries the original registration number of the 1951 Black Shadow frame on which it is based, supplied new to Humphrey’s of London. The engine, meanwhile, relates to a 1949 White Shadow and is supplied with the original works completion form, showing it as being finished in December of that year. The engine’s provenance is guaranteed by the Vincent Owners’ Club. Meanwhile, the upper frame number relates to a Vincent Comet supplied in 1951 to Millars of Mitcham, so it’s clear that this bike has been fully rebuilt at some point in its past. 
It was very nicely restored by Conway's Motorcycles during the last ownership and had a full engine rebuild by the owner prior to that, with a list of engine parts replaced accompanying the bike. Across the entire machine, largely stainless-steel fasteners replace the originals, with very good chrome and paintwork, particularly the tank, and a new seat. 
The current owner restored the sidecar in recent years, rebuilt to his own 'Goodwood' style specification; copper-lined, with bomber nose art evocative of World War 2. The Isolastic sidecar body suspension also has an additional airbag for further comfort, while the braked sidecar wheel is a great asset for an experienced outfit rider.

The Paperwork

All documents, including the works sheet for the White Shadow as originally dispatched are present and correct and whilst not a matching-numbers machine, it is well known to the Vincent Owners’ Club. As such, there is correspondence with the VOC registrar authenticating its history on file. It has a valid V5 in the name of the current owner.

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The Condition

This is a beautifully-detailed machine that has clearly been loved and cherished by the current owner, who has ensured that the paint finish and detailing are of an exceptional standard. 
The sidecar in particular has a lovely finish, while the WW2-inspired artwork and racing roundel truly reflect the post-war era in which the bike was built. It is superbly well-presented too, with a beautifully fabricated chrome grab rail, high-quality stainless fasteners and leather upholstery.

The Mechanics

The 998cc four-stroke V-twin is the same as that fitted to the Black Shadow save for its polished casings. It starts and runs superbly.
 It is a point of interest that the Vincent Motorcycle Company made special provisions for the addition of a sidecar to its machines, and these were closely followed in the fitting of this Swallow sidecar. 
The first was to include reversible eccentrics in the pivoting members of the ‘Girdraulic’ front girder forks. This was an enduring Vincent design which remains widely recognised as the best motorcycle forks ever produced.  

 The second was to make lower-geared rear sprockets available, suitable for when a sidecar is in use. Vincents are also known to have a reversible rear wheel, with both a high and a low-geared sprocket permanently fitted on either side of the rear hub. The idea was that should the rider be, for instance, approaching a mountainous region on their touring holiday, then they might stop and reverse their rear wheel for lower and more tractable gearing, in order to better negotiate the coming terrain.

The Appeal

This is a wonderful outfit – beautifully presented and derived from one of the rarest and most desirable motorcycles ever made. The owner’s vision in creating the right period look for it was inspired and whoever buys this unique combination, will undoubtedly attract plenty of attention at shows and events. Our only regret was not being able to photograph her under the wing of a Spitfire, where she clearly belongs.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sales of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
Vehicle specification
  • Year 1949
  • Make Vincent
  • Model White Shadow
  • Colour Black
  • Mileage 13,017
  • Engine size 1000
  • Location Essex
Bidding history
2 bids

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