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Lot 110: c.1950 Vincent Grey Flash Replica

Motorcycles featuring Michael Corbin Collection, Bonhams & Butterfields (3 May 2008)

The fewer they make the further they seek to find!

An accurate adage coined by an English motorcycle journalist after he had failed to purchase – on an occasion it was readily available – a scarce, ex final batch, Mk 8 KTT Velocette. It is a sentiment so often applied to racing motorcycles, which, inevitably, aren’t always appreciated until after they’ve vanished. Such is the case with the Grey Flash, Vincent’s single cylinder racer for the half liter Class. Depending on the source of the info the Stevenage factory built about thirty examples between 1950 and 1951. According to contemporary sales literature it could be supplied in stripped racer guise, in street legal form, or the latter plus a kit of parts, and an unsold example certainly did linger on the floor of at least one store in southern England. The ’Flash was effectively a Comet in the same spec’ as the 1000cc Black Lightning…another iconic Vincent of which only two and a half dozen were built! While the Grey Flash may have had its combustion chamber replenished and swept by humble overhead valves, and fed by a 32mm Amal TT carb, it still produced a useful 35bhp at 6200rpm from a compression ratio of 8:1. Fitted with either a Burman or Albion gearbox, ‘Girdraulic’ forks, and every electron chassis item found on the ’Lightning, its dry weight of approximately 330 lbs was similar to Norton’s slightly later Featherbed-framed ohc Manx.

John Surtees World Championships – whether on two wheels or four – are far better chronicled than his early day apprenticeship at Vincent, to whose factory he daily rode 60 miles across downtown London. His 120-mile Vincent-mounted commute rarely consumed more than two hours! More importantly, though, at all major circuits in the UK during the early 1950s, Surtees was virtually unbeatable on his Grey Flash, which he continued to race until poached by Norton.

In racing, especially with today’s technology, rarity breeds replicas. On the basis such are openly declared this practice should not be discouraged, for replicas have an ability to widen the pleasure of all involved. Over the last quarter century there has arrived a fulfilling selection of race replicas, some containing – to a lesser or greater degree – quantities of the correct and/or authentic parts. It is a culture that will flourish ad infinitum!

In the present ownership since 2000 the vendor describes the beautifully prepared Grey Flash Replica as in Nice Condition.

Without reserve

Lot Details
Auction Motorcycles featuring Michael Corbin Collection
Bonhams & Butterfields, The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay, California
Lot Number110
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$25000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$29250
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis numberRC1 10647
Engine numberF5AB/2/8747
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors