Look through the ads for collector cars and you’ll see lots and lots of tributes and clones, cars that, at first glance, look like the special model everyone wants, but are really just a common base model with the right pieces added. Regular Mustangs become Shelby GT500 tributes or an old Pontiac LeMans becomes a GTO clone. Happens all the time, but with motorcycles, almost never. I hadn’t really thought about it, but a recent eBay listing made me stop for a second, it was for a 1952 Vincent Black Lightning tribute (shown above). According to the description it was: “Manufactured after production ceased from all original parts.”
Now, this really is a first class bike, no doubt:
1st Place quail winner, Museum quality restoration from the Gene Brown Collection, The bike was restored by Herb Harris with and for Gene Brolin at the Harris Vincent Gallery and has a Burns and Wright bottom end in it.
I’m no Vincent expert so I take it these fellows are some of the guys to see if you need work of this sort done, but this particular bike never left the factory as a Black Lightning, in fact it never left the factory at all, it was assembled from the pieces that could have been a Black Lightning had the production run continued.
Vintage motorcycles tend to be what they are, there aren’t many models that came in multiple trim levels with all kinds of engine choices, one combination being the sought after holy grail. Instead, the popular model was all the same except, perhaps, for a few color choices. Owners don’t make a Kawasaki Z1 from something else, or an Indian 4. If that’s what you see, that’s what it is. But a Yenko Camaro? Better do your homework. The tributes and clones in the auto world can lead a buyer to make an expensive mistake if he isn’t careful and the seller is less than honest, but with motorcycles, you can rest a little easier.
There’s no deeper point to be made here, but when I saw the Vincent tribute, it just jumped out because it’s something not often seen. Interesting.