Home > Vehicles >
The Most Famous Vincent Black Lightning
Owner Jack Ehret  

Privately imported in 1952 by Tony McAlpine – 3 times Australian representative to the Isle of Mann. Owned for a short time by Jack Forrest (Forrest Elbow – Bathurst), who crashed it 2 times out of 3 races. Then owned by Ehret, 1952 to 1999. It still exists in original unrestored and running condition in Melbourne, and is paraded regularly.It continues to be one of few Lightning survivors worldwide to see the light of day, in original, as raced, condition. The Lightning was last raced by Jack and his son John Ehret as an outfit at Eastern Creek NSW, in 1993. It is perhaps ’The Most Famous Vincent Black Lightning’.


Franc's Flying Vincent

Franc’s 50’s Flying Machine

The Black Lightning Engine No. F10AB/1C/7305 was intended purely as a racing and record breaking mount and built to a special order only. One of approximately 30 built, this authentic and unrestored example was reputed to be the last and fastest Lightning ever to come to Australia.
It was ordered on 25 June 1951 by Tony Mc Alpine, the three times Australian  representative to the Isle of Man, you had to be a person of some notoriety in order to secure a Black Lightning in those days. McAlpine built the Black Lightning at the famous Stevenage Race Shop as a replica of “Gunga Din” the famous works Lightning “shakedown” bike ridden to great success by the late George Brown.According to Mc Alpine, whilst Gunga Din was undergoing one of the many race shop refits, some of the very special parts mysteriously ended up in1C/7305.
Upon completion on 19th July 1951 the two machines were contested at Great Garsden Airstrip from a standing start where the Black Lightning was a clear 30 yards ahead of Gunga Din.
Factory road test records dated 21st of July 1951 indicated speeds in excess of 130 mph in third gear, along the great North Road, during a 120 miles road test conducted by a Mr. Thomas.

Mc Alpine returned to Australia with the Black Lightning as a private import. After being requested to return to the UK shortly thereafter, he was forced to put the bike up for sale at Burlings & Simmonds, the NSW Velocette agents for 500 pounds. It was briefly owned by Jack Forrest who apparently crashed it twice in three races.The machine was subsequently purchased by Jack Ehret, the already famous Sydney speedster who was the proprietor of  well known motor bike shops at Mascot and Randwick.
The Black Lightning remained with Ehret for almost 50 years, it has endured approximately 5000 racing miles. Jack maintains it won 80% of all races it entered!
Perhaps the greatest claim to fame occurred on Monday, January 19th 1953 between Tamworth and Gunnedah, NSW after battling with Officialdom, Jack Ehret smashed the Australian land speed record, previously held by Les Wharton also on the Black Lightning. Jack Ehret clocked a mean speed of 141.509 mph over a quarter-mile stretch where timing
devices were operated by ACU officials.
The Black Lightning was then “put to work” to claim many victories, placings and lap records in senior sidecar and unlimited solo events around Australia. Successes were attained at Bathurst, Mount Druit Airstrip, Werribee Park, Gnoo Blass Orange, Oran Park, Mildura and Parramattaa Park.
Ehret and the Black Lightning were title point leaders in 1954, clearly ahead of such famous names as Harry Hinton snr, Lloyd Hirst, Sid Willis, Maurie Quincey, Jack Ahearn, Jack Curruthers, Bernie Mack and Tony Mc Alpine.

In February 1955 Ehret entered the Black Lightning in a 10 lap senior invitation race at the  two and a quarter mile Mount Druit circuit. He was competing against such famous names as Art Senior, Harry Hinton and the world-famous Geoff Duke of a four-cylinder factory Gilera.Geoff Duke wrote the following:
Ehret made a poor start in the unlimited event, whereas I was first away and piled on the coals from the beginning. Thereafter I was able to keep an eye on the Vincent rider. Although he was unable to make up for his bad start, Ehret rode to such good purpose that he equalled my fastest lap, and we now share the honour of being lap record holders at Mount Druit( 1min,42.3sec ),1 sec.only outside the previous figure.Down Under with Geoff Duke- motorcycling magazine April 14th 1955.

The last recorded race by Ehret and the Black Lightning was at Oran Park January 1978:

Ehret, one of the all-time greats in sidecar racing, and a man who could not be beaten in his day, rode to an easy second in one race and then, with the old Vincent Magic, scuttled away to a pair of unapproachable wins in the two others. Motorcycling magazineVintagents at Oran Park 1978.

The Black Lightning is currently in authentic and unrestored running order. Though it could be described by some as “tatty” or “ripe for restoration” it is Franc’s intention to preserve its  heritage as it is, and was in its day. Its legacy as one of, or perhaps, the most famous Vincent Black Lightning in Australian Motorcycling History, is a tribute to the outstanding ability of Jack “Ferret” Ehret ,who owned it for almost 50 years. For its concept, design and status is one of the most outstanding  motorcycles ever to come out of Britain, we mostly praise, among others, the foresight of  Philip Vincent and the genius of our own Phil Irving.

Source: Classic Motorcycle Club of Victoria


Select Image to Enlarge

Select Image to Enlarge



Teams and Drivers
Contact Us

Other HRDU Sites

Hot Rod Events
Hot Rod History
Hot Rod Hall of Fame
Hot Rod Magazines
Hot Rod Books
Hot Rod Tech
Hot Rod Tours
Show Rods
Land Speed Racing Australia
Land Speed America
Land Speed Racing History
Land Speed Racing Historians

More HRDU Sites

All About 1934 Chev's
48-53 Chev Pickup's
History of the Corvette
Car Spotters Guide
Monaro Shrine
Aussie Utes


About Hot Rods Down Under
Contact Us
Terms and Conditions
Site Map

Hot Rods Down Under