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The Holy Grail of Classic British Motorcycles

At its Oct. 6 auction at the Barber Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, Bonhams will offer an incredible example of the "holy grail" of British motorbikes, a 1949 Vincent Black Lightning. Worth around $750,000, it could set a new world record when the hammer falls.

As Bonhams notes, the Black Lightning possesses "the golden combination of rarity – only around 30 were ever built– evocative design, forward-thinking engineering and racing success," and they almost never come up for sale. 

The example on offer was ordered new for Swiss motorcycle racing champion Hans Stärkle, and was the second Black Lightning ever built, making it the earliest most original example in existence. We expect the paddles to fly....