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Welcome to The Showroom

Because some bikes are more special than others

Welcome to The Showroom, a premium showcase of extra special motorcycles for sale.

Listings in The Showroom are reserved for bikes that are unusual, exotic, rare, collectible or otherwise ‘special’. Each advertisement features full-size photographs so you can get up close and personal.

Selling yours?

In partnership with The Bike Shed Times, we can help sell your special bike. See the details here.


Investing in special bikes? Here’s the article you must read first

DO YOU ever wish you’d been alive in those times when great classic bikes were selling cheap? You know what we mean — those times when no-one wanted Norton Commandos because of the Z1, those times when Brough Superiors were being retired because they were considered obsolete, those times when people were selling their mid-70s Ducati 900SS because they didn’t have electrics starters. Well, here’s the thing. You are alive in one of those times. Every generation has its classics and, for a period of time, they are affordable. Here’s our tips on investing in classic bikes, and our Top Ten Future Classics you can buy today for ten grand or less.

Start shopping with some logical ground rules

There are no rules in investing in motorbikes. If there were, it would be easy. But we reckon there are some basics that have enough logic to be considered worthwhile.

 Tip 1. If it wasn’t desirable yesterday, it won’t be desirable tomorrow

We consider this a no-brainer — you’d be brave to risk money on a bike that no-one liked very much even when it was new. The Vincent Black Shadow has always been highly sought after. That’s because they were magnificent machines. They were also very, very exclusive (and expensive), even when they were new — so there were countless folks who couldn’t afford one but who wished that, one day, they would own one.

Tip 2. Originality is king 

When collectors scan the world in search of bikes, they have ‘originality’ as a high-level search filter. The original ‘look’ is most important — correct colour, correct exhaust, correct seat, correct badges, correct gauges; all the things you can see — so a potential buyer can feel like they’re buying the same bike they could have bought (but probably couldn’t afford) back in the day. If all those items are not only correct but original (tank never repainted, engine never rebuilt etc), that’s even better. (We got to see a collection of Japanese bikes recently, where the owner did ‘originality’ better than most. See our story here.)

 Tip 3. First and last are remembered most fondly

Ground-breaking bikes that set a new standard in performance, handling and styling will always be valued, because they stick in people’s memories. But they’ve got to be outstanding — revolutionary, not just evolutionary. The first Z1 Kawasaki was not as good a bike as any of the Zeds that came after it, but it’s the one that everyone remembers and now it’s the one that everyone wants. At the other end of the evolutionary chain, those final big-bore two-strokes (Suzuki RG 500s etc) tick the opposite box — highly evolved dinosaurs that mark the high-point for a time or technology.

Tip 4. Remember your high school economics — price is a product of supply and demand 

We reckon the best buys in the second-hand bike market at the moment are high-performance Japanese sports bikes. Honda CBR1000RRs, Yamaha R1s, Suzuki GSXRs, and Kawasaki ZX10RRs can be found for not much more than beer money, and they are among the most highly advanced motorcycles ever made. Crazy fast, sweet handling, beautifully made, reliable — just marvellous pieces of kit. But we don’t recommend them as investments. Do you know why they are so cheap? Because they lack rarity. There’s an over-supply of them. They will probably go up in value eventually, but not until most of them (and probably most of us) are dead and buried. And given how many of them were made (like us), and how well they were made (unlike us), that could be a long wait.

 Tip 5. Most collectibles spend time out of fashion

If you like the idea of investing in motorcycles and you’ve not already read our story about the collector named Toad, you should. (See it here.) Toad has shown the world that a bike’s desirability is a transient thing. When bikes are new, people value them because of their newness. As soon as one model is made redundant by a newer model, the older one loses its newness and becomes less wanted. Once a bike is four or five models old, most people are turning up their noses. In the early 1970s when Japanese bikes were all the rage, people were riding their tired old British bikes to the rubbish tip and then hitching a ride home. Toad took his trailer to the tip every weekend and scooped up all the all bikes that no-one wanted. At the time, we’re sure people thought he was crazy as a loon. The man was a genius. You’re not going to find many bikes on rubbish tips any more, but you can use Toad’s logic to go shopping.

Tip 6. Yesterday’s buyers are tomorrow’s buyers 

Remember when Volkswagen released the modern incarnation of the VW Beetle? We do. If we remember right, there was a line in the press from someone at VW headquarters saying that the company believed the typical ‘new Beetle’ buyer would be someone who owned a Beetle back in the old days. Not the same type of people — not the same generic — the same actual people. That logic also applies to Kawasaki’s new Z900 and Suzuki’s new Katana — they’re chasing the same actual people who bought Z1s in the 70s and Katanas in the ’80s, but who are now older, wiser, softer and richer. But there’s another group of buyers too — people who don’t want a modern incarnation of their old bike, but who actually want that old bike. We recently sold two 1988 Moto Guzzi LeMan 1000s to two chaps in their 50s, both of whom had owned a LeMans when they were in their 20s, for about the same price as they sold when they were new. People who want to re-live an enjoyable time of their lives will connect with a machine that was a part of that time. And they’ll pay for it.

Tip 7. Yesterday’s wannabes are tomorrow’s buyers

OK, so this is a car story. But we think the lesson is good. A few years ago, I bought a 1988 Porsche 911. When I was in my 20s, a new Porsche 911 cost as much as a house. And no, I’m not exaggerating. And then one day in my mid-40s I had a golly-gosh moment — I discovered that the very car that I had lusted over when I was 26 now cost less than a new Mazda 6. So I bought one.  I paid $30,000 for it, which was a hell of a lot of money for a 25-year-old car (try pricing a 1988 Mazda) but a hell of a lot less (by $100k or so) than it cost back in the day. I was over the moon. Unlike the ‘new Beetle’ buyer who wanted a modern version of their old clunker, or the two Guzzi buyers who wanted to remember an old bike flame, I got to be the dorky guy from high school with zits who finally got to date the cheerleader with the long legs. In the years between 1988 and 2013, the price of a 1988 Porsche had come down (a lot) and my buying capacity had gone up (a bit). It was enough. The footnote to this story is that I have since sold the 911 for more than double what I paid for it. Some richer folks than me had that same golly-gosh moment, and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. (Fear not, I’ve spent the profit wisely …)

Tip 8. Depreciation is linear. Except when it isn’t. 

Ask any accountant and they’ll probably tell you that your motorbike will depreciate at a linear 20 per cent per annum. That means, according to the accountant, that if your new bike is worth $10,000 the day you buy it, it will be worth $8,000 ($10,000 minus $2,000) a year later. The following year it will be worth $6,400 ($8,000 minus $1,600) and the year after that it will be worth $4,200 ($6,400 minus $1,200). Sadly, the accountant is correct — or at least correct-ish — most of the time. But not all of the time. Sometimes the market interrupts the neat world of the accountant and decides that a bike is not depreciating so fast. Or not depreciating at all. Or, occasionally, appreciating. The successful motorcycle investor is the person who can predict (before everyone else does) that a particular model is going to upset the depreciation model and head in the opposite direction.

What does it all mean?

We have no idea. Really, we don’t. Investing in bikes is a risky business, and for every I-made-a-lot-of-money-on-an-old-Honda story there are a hundred I-lost-a-lot-of-money-on-an-old-Honda stories. But nonetheless, we are brave enough to name our Top Ten $10,000-or-less bikes that we believe are going to appreciate in the medium-to-long term, or at least hold their value, rather than slide into the swamp. And here they are:

(First published 2018 – so prices have moved on)

#10: Early Yamaha RD350

While most of the world was going ga-ga over Japan’s four-cylinder superbikes in the early 1970s, Yamaha’s RD350 proved you could do a lot with a little. The diminutive twin-cylinder two-stroke embarrassed many a big bike, not only around the corners but even down the straight. The RD line included the wonderful RD400 Daytona and evolved into marvellous liquid-cooled LC350s, but it’s the earlier air-cooled 350s that most of us recall with the greatest fondness. Early RDs are already collectibles, but they’re still cheap. We reckon they still have upside. (Also consider: RD250, RD400.)

#9: 1981 Suzuki GSX1100S Katana

Designed by a German for a Japanese company to conquer the world, the Katana arrived to a market that loved the futuristic styling and gave Suzuki a huge image boost. (Also consider: Katana 750.)

#8: 1987 Moto Guzzi LeMans 1000

Original LeMans 850s are now commanding big prices, but the later 1000cc MkV can still be found around the $10k mark. (Also consider: LeMans MkII, MkIII, MkIV). More reading here.

#7: 2000 Honda VTR1000 SP-1

For our money, the SP variants of Honda’s VTR1000 are among the most collectible sports bikes to ever come out of Japan. The SP1 was created because Honda wanted a bike to beat Ducati in the world superbike series and, in typical Honda fashion, the bike did precisely that with Colin Edwards behind the bars. The SP1 was perfect on the track but a bit of a handful on the road — the fuelling was dodgy at low revs (not a problem at Eastern Creek, but a pain in the arse tootling around town) and the suspension and setup was hard as. (Also consider: The later VTR SP-2, and the four-cylinder VF1000R.)

#6: 1998 Ducati 996

Spawned from the ground-breaking 916, the 996 has now slipped in value down to the point where you can pick one up around $10,000. And you should. Well-heeled collectors will prefer the 916 of course, but they’ll pay more. For the rest of us, the 996 is a bargain. (Also consider: any late L-twin Ducati sports bike, but especially the 916, 998 and Panigale.) More reading here.

#5: Maico 490


We weren’t going to include dirt bikes in this line-up, but we simply couldn’t ignore this one. If Elvis Presley were a dirt bike, he would be a Maico 490. It’s simply The King. Maico made the best motocross bikes in the world through the 1970s and into the 1980s, and the 490 in its various guises was the pinnacle of the company’s success. Not long after the 490 hit the world’s race tracks, the company went broke. And that was that. All over. A tragedy that makes Romeo and Juliet look like a sit-com. (Also consider: Anything with a Maico badge; other big-bore European motocrossers. We could never find a big Maico when we had cash, so we bought and restored a 1983 Husqvarna 430 instead. It was fun. See the story here.)

#4: MV Agusta F4 750

More than a decade after the original MV Agusta empire collapsed, Italian brothers Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni (of Cagiva fame) were collecting the remnants of Italy’s once-great marques. They bought the rights to the MV Agusta name in 1991. Their first bikes under the reincarnated MV Agusta badge came in 1997 – a small range of fast, light, exotic, expensive, four-cylinder 750cc sports bikes called the F4.  The range expanded in the early 2000s to include 1000cc variants of the F4, and the first of the Brutale series, a 750. The Brutale 910 arrived in 2006, and the higher-spec 910R followed a year later. The Bike Shed Times editor Peter Terlick bought himself a 910R (see the story here), but it’s the original 750F4 that he’d love to own, and its the one we think will make money for investors. (Also consider: Any four-cylinder MV Agusta — they’re all rare and exotic.)


#3: 1999 Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa

 In 1999, the world was given it’s first 300kmh+ production motorcycle. The first Suzuki Hayabusa sparked a global panic about the speed-and-horsepower race getting out of hand, to the point that politicians started talking openly about banning the sale of hyper-fast bikes. Manufacturers responded by implementing an unwritten agreement to put speed limiters on bikes so they could not exceed 300kmh. The agreement was more about posturing than safety, and there are plenty of bikes out there nowadays that can top 300kmh. (Well, maybe not plenty — but some.) But none of that changes the fact that the first Hayabusa owns an important and impressive place in history.  (Also consider: MV Agusta’s 312RR, which openly and proudly claimed a top speed of 312kmh when everyone else was diving for cover. You won’t find one for ten grand, though …) More reading here.

#2: 2002 Buell Firebolt XB9R

Almost as tragic as the story of Maico is the story of Buell. Erik Buell was an engineer who worked for Harley-Davidson and dreamed of making a Harley sports bike. Not a chopper pretending to be a sportsbike, like the H-D Sportster, but an actual sports bike that you could take to the race track and win races on. The first Buell Firebolt, the XB9R, was the realisation of Erik’s dream. Harley-Davidson were amused, then threatened, then supposedly supportive of Eric and his revolutionary bikes, then they bought him out and shut him down. We desperately want one of these in our shed. (There’s one currently for sale in Western Australia. See the advert here.)

#1: SOHC Honda 750 Four

So this is it —  our top pick of the best investment bikes you can buy today with a budget of no more than $10,000. When Honda released the 750 Four in 1969, the motorcycle world changed. Although the bike was barely faster than the Triumph Trident and Norton 850 Commando, it was considered a quantum leap forward in design and technology. It’s four-cylinder engine, disc brakes and in-your-face styling were important, but it’s smoothness, reliability and build quality were really the more important issues. The British bike industry was already in deep trouble in the late ’60s, and the Honda Four arrived like a killer punch. You’re not likely to find a first series (K0) model under ten grand in reasonable shape, but you should be able to pick up one of the later single overhead cam models for that sort of money. (We know a chap who paid a lot more for an early K0 built entirely from NOS parts. Read about him here.) (Also consider: Kawasaki Z900, DOHC Honda Four).



Quartararo takes world title as Ducati’s crash and burn; Marquez wins again, Rossi 10th

Quartararo takes world title as Ducati’s crash and burn; Marquez wins again, Rossi 10th

YAMAHA’S Fabio Quartararo has taken out the 2021 MotoGP title after a dramatic race at Misano, Italy.

After starting from 15th on the grid, Quartararo picked his way through the pack and briefly looked set for a podium finish. That wasn’t to be, but fourth spot was enough for the 22-year-old Frenchman to take an unbeatable lead in the season standings.

In a race full of drama, the only rider with a chance to beat Quartararo for the title, Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, took an early lead ahead of fellow Ducati rider, Australian Jack Miller.

When the pack settled, Marc Marquez (Honda), who started from seventh, moved into third behind Bagnaia and Miller.

Then Miller went down, leaving Marquez to breath down Bagnaia’s throat, lap after lap.

With just a few laps remaining, Bagnaia had opened up a near one-second lead over Marquez and looked safe to take first spot. But then he went down, on the same corner as Miller crashed. The two Ducati riders both rode with hard front tyres, a decision that was subject to much discussion after the race.

That left Marquez to cruise to victory.

Valentino Rossi finished tenth in his last MotoGP on Italian soil.

There are two rounds left in the season, in Portugal and Spain.

Final results at Misano:





The Saigon Shadow – Bounty of the Revolution

Built for a world record speed attempt, used as leverage against Vietnamese communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, sold off to an arts student in Saigon, plucked out of a war zone by an Aussie fighter pilot, recommissioned and blasted around the hills of south-western Australia, and now in private hands in Queensland — this is one amazing tale about one amazing motorcycle. DANIEL TALBOT traces the fascinating history of a highly-modified factory-built Vincent Black Shadow that was once used by the French and American governments in an attempt to stem the spread of Communism.

As a young motorcycle enthusiast growing up in the South West of Western Australia, I occasionally heard mention of a mysterious Vincent Black Shadow that was known to exist somewhere in the hills outside the small rural town of Harvey.

At first, all I knew was there was a former fighter pilot who owned one the most exclusive motorcycles on the planet — and he lived somewhere nearby.  As the years ticked by, I increasingly immersed myself in the culture of the Vincent and eventual ownership of the coveted brand.

Long before I became part of the Vincent illuminati, titbits of information about the Black Shadow from Harvey would filter through and were stored in the recesses of my memory for later recall and camp-fire discussions with fellow enthusiasts.

As I began to learn more about this particular Vincent, I became more intrigued.  Like any good myth, this one had the promise of discovery and adventure.  Except myths usually end with the trail of evidence going cold as one tries to seek out names and facts.  In this case, there was a name and it was Murray Raynes. The ‘myth’ was true indeed, and the story behind it was more fascinating than I had ever imagined.

Jacqui Raynes and her partner Frank stand behind her father’s old Vincent in the Cairns Motorcycle Museum.

Murray discovered the Vincent in Vietnam and, in true Indiana Jones fashion, flew the thing out of Saigon as the city was falling into the hands of the Viet Chong.  How the Black Shadow came to be in Saigon is an intriguing story that will one day make a great movie but, for now, we’re limited to print; so here’s the plot:

A Vincent is no ordinary motorcycle and the factory never lost an opportunity to prove it.  In 1936 the twin cylinder Vincent Rapide debuted with the promise of a genuine, out of the crate, 110 miles per hour motorcycle.  On the downside, they cost as much as a small house.  Only 78 of those first Rapides were made before World War II disrupted things at Stevenage and the factory turned their skills toward the war effort.

Phillip Vincent and his Aussie side-kick, Phillip Irving, accomplished some pretty innovative designs during WWII but a discussion about drones and amphibians would lead far from the topic here.  Evidently, they spent their spare time well because the company was in a position to begin churning out their famous B Series Rapides within a year of the close of hostilities.

In an empire seeking to re-establish itself as an industrial superpower, a superbike proved to be the perfect embodiment of speed and sophistication.  Imagine, if you will, a machine that was guaranteed to slake the thirst of a Spitfire pilot wanting to experience the thrill of speed at ground level, or in our case, a Boeing 707.

After he left the Royal Australian Air Force, Murray joined Cathay Pacific.  Based in Hong-Kong, Murray flew to US and European cities, as well as Asian cities, including Saigon.  This would come in handy later on when it came time to spirit his Vincent out of the city.

The two Phillips, Vincent and Irving, were driven by a desire to produce the best motorcycle they could.  Speed and reliability were important markers of success in the post-war, automotive world and, to this end, manufacturers would compete in speed and reliability trials to provide fodder for marketing and advertising brochures.  Vincent was no exception. Their advertising would assert with ‘this is a fact, not a slogan’.

To maintain the rhetoric, in May 1952 the company took a fleet of specially-prepared Black Shadows and Black Lightning motorcycles, along with spare engines, to Montlhery in France for an attempt on the world 24-hour speed record.

 Montlhery was chosen for a number of reasons.  The banked, 2.4-kilometre circuit was home to the original, pre-war, Bol d’or motorcycle endurance races and was well suited to continued high speed running.  More importantly, in 1951, Gustave Lefevre, the son-in-law of Parisian Vincent dealer Clement Garreau, set an unofficial record at Montlhery riding a Vincent Black Lightning supplied to Gerreau’s in October 1950.

As part of the effort, they took 11 works riders, including John Surtees, Ted Davis and Lefevre.  Despite the successes Vincent would become known for, 1952 Montlhery wasn’t one of them.  The machines suffered mechanical failures and the record attempts were abandoned early.

Surtees did manage to get one of the machines lapping the banked circuit at 129mph but apparently the conditions were too hot and the tyres began to shred themselves.  Elsewhere in the fleet, one of the engines suffered a broken crankshaft.  All in all, it was a bit of a disaster — but the team did come away with a record for sustaining over 100mph for six hours.

History indicates the motorcycles used for the record attempt were sent from France back to the UK where they were disassembled for post-mortem purposes.  History also tells us at least one of the specially modified engines and a Black Shadow, modified to works racer specifications, either remained with or were returned to Garreaus.

It would come as no secret to many readers that the motorcycles used by companies to set speed records in the post-war era were not simply pulled from the production line and taken to the track.

Instead, they were tweaked and tuned to better than blue-print specifications to ensure every chance of success.  The result left a finger-print on the engine every bit as indelible as that of the specialists working on them, and those finger-pints are all over the engine of a certain Vincent Black Shadow that would later be discovered in Saigon, Vietnam.

The Saigon Shadow was dispatched by the factory in 1952 to motorcycle dealer Garreaus in Paris.  Evidently Garreaus had a busy year.  They sent Lefevre’s (unofficial) record-breaking Black Lightning to Kallin Motors in Adelaide, Australia.  They also took delivery of at least one Black Shadow engine (F10AB/1B/9203) bearing Lightning cams, 32mm carburettors and many other factory, hand-fabricated parts.

We know this because that engine was in a box consigned to Vietnam (or Indochina as it was then known) in 1952 and has since been authenticated by the Vincent Owner’s Club records as being sent to Garreau’s as an engine only.  The records show the engine as being of the race pedigree specifications detailed above.

How the race engine, the Saigon Shadow, a series B Rapide and a series A Rapide came to be in Vietnam is a bit of a mystery.  In his book Raynes: A Fighter Pilot with Attitude, Murray Raynes writes the motorcycles were sent to the High Commissioner of Indochina in 1952 which, at that time, was Mr Jean Letourneau who had earlier taken up a diplomatic appointment in French Indochina and moved there in 1949.

In 1950, upon the death of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Letourneau became High Commissioner, then, in 1952 he added Minister for the Associated States to his portfolio.  It is not known if Letourneau purchased the motorcycles or if he facilitated their transport to the colony to be used as leverage.  What is known is Letourneau’s tenure as Minister ended prematurely; so swiftly in fact he fled the newly named Vietnam leaving the cache of Vincents behind.   In an extraordinary twist of events, they fell into the hands of Vietnamese royalty.

Emperor Boa Dai.

Bao Dai was considered the last emperor of Vietnam and ruled over Annan, which made up the greater portion of what is known as modern-day Vietnam.  Recognising the influence Bao Dai had over the emerging power of Communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, the French, and later the USA, courted the man with gifts and even a four-month sabbatical to Paris where Dai earned the epithet “Night Club Emperor.”

Ten years before the Vietnam war, the US were in Vietnam seeking to assist the French in negotiating the “Bao Dai Solution.”  The so-called problem was that Ho Chi Minh’s movement for greater autonomy was gaining traction across Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh.

Ho was a French-educated revolutionary who was increasingly turning to the Communists to back his cause.  America saw this as a threat, or the domino effect as it became known, whereby communism coming from the North would eventually infect the entire South East Asia.  In the ultimate expression of beads and trinkets diplomacy, the solution was found in plying Bao Dai with exotic gifts, including, it would seem, the cache of Vincent motorcycles.

The emperor clearly had a penchant for exclusive goods. A Rolex watch purchased by Bao Dai in Geneva during a 1954 leaders’ summit holds the record for the highest ever price paid for a timepiece.  Twice.  In 2002 it went for $US235K, then again in 2017 for a cool $US5M.

It’s not known if Bao Dai wasn’t interested in classic British motorcycles or perhaps he had no chance to unpack the boxes of Vincent, before he too fled to the sanctity of France where he remained Head of State of Vietnam for a short while before being deposed in 1955 by his Prime Minister.

With the demise of Bao Dai, his treasures, which included classic European sports cars, a yacht, the motorcycles and other trappings of power were gathered up by the state and sold at auction as bounty of the revolution.  The Vincents were still in their original packing crates.

The motorcycles were purchased by Nguyrn Van Nhon who was at the time an arts student at Saigon university.  Subsequent to becoming a Vincent owner, the young artist was awarded honorary membership to the Vincent Owners Club.  The club news booklet MPH has photographs of Nhon enjoying the delights of his Rapide however the Black Shadow was never reassembled.

Nguyrn Van Nhon and his family. Photograph supplied by Nhon’s widow, Ms Yen Le, to John Randel.

This is probably due to parts being removed over the 20 years the motorcycle spent in Saigon.  Lee Klancher, writing in the Vincent in the Barn (2009), describes the motorcycles being kept in a basement which flooded every year, allowing water and organic material to enter the engines of the motorcycles which were still sitting in their crates.

By 1975 the writing was on the wall.  Ho Chi Minh was going to take Saigon so Nhon advertised the motorcycles in MPH and eager buyers started to make contact.  Enter Murray Raynes.

Unlike other suitors, Murray was relatively close by.  Living in Hong Kong meant the Australian pilot was a mere puddle-jump away.  Murray arrived in the city amidst the turmoil of invasion.  He had set aside two days to pack the parts of the Black Shadow and kudos to the man as the sounds of shelling from Ho’s troops didn’t dissuade him from packing the Vincent for the next leg of its life journey.

Murray Raynes. Picture kindly supplied by Jacqui Raynes.

The motorcycle was probably what could best be described as a ‘basket-case.’  There was much work to be done in locating the various pieces, large and small and getting them into boxes for transport.  There was a total ban on the export of manufactured items out of Vietnam, meaning the motorcycle had to go over the check-in desk as passenger luggage.

In his 2005 book, Regrets, Murray writes;

‘Troops were just outside, lobbing the odd missile into the city, from the time I was there getting the machine ready for export. The day I moved out, the airport departure hall was in a state of total chaos with passengers ten deep at the check-in counter. Into this chaotic mess, I arrived with this massive box that, because what I was doing was not quite kosher, had to go over the check-in counter as passenger luggage. I then stood by the box handing ten-dollar bills to anyone who looked like a customs officer until I had the bike in the hold of the Boeing 707.’

At this point, there was no going back.  If Murray was unable to get the boxes into the aircraft, the Black Shadow would have to stay on the tarmac. When eventually Murray slumped into the aircraft seat, with the motorcycle safely in the hold, he celebrated his minor victory with a Cognac in hand and the Black Shadow petrol tank in his lap.

The motorcycle was flown first to Hong Kong then later back to Perth, Western Australia, where Murray set about commissioning what was essentially a brand-new, un-used motorcycle.

At that time, the engine had only test miles on it.  A later examination revealed the sprockets showed no signs of wear, nor did the primary chain tensioner, as the primary chain actually wears groves in the spring steel tensioner this was also a good indicator that the bike had travelled very few miles.

In conversations with past owners, Murray revealed he had issues starting the motorcycle, likely due in part to high-performance specifications of the engine touched on earlier.

Murray installed an electronic ignition on the motorcycle that remains with it to this day but evidently it was still a difficult machine to live with as Murray once told the current owner he travelled less than 1,000 kilometres on the motorcycle.

Murray maintained his love of bikes into his later years. He passed away in May 2019.

The fact that the motorcycle was difficult to live with is not surprising.  Although Murray spent a considerable amount of money recommissioning the motorcycle, as is often the case, the next owner also delved into the inner workings of the Saigon Shadow and discovered it carried all the hallmarks of the record attempt engines, including;  polished valves and cam followers, original 9:1 compression Specialloid pistons, bearings as new, Mark 1 cams, lightened cam plate and clutch shoe carrier, Lightning pattern one-piece Ferodo friction clutch ring, polished ‘Vibrac’ conrods, heads ported and polished to suit Amal 32mm 10TT9 carburettors, steel idler gear, Lightning 22 tooth final gear sprocket.  This was no ordinary Black Shadow but a highly tuned, 150 mile per hour motorcycle that was intended for a higher purpose than the normal sports touring domain of Vincent’s flagship motorcycle.

That the engine is so highly tuned, and therefore slightly difficult to live with can be viewed as both curse, because such an appealing machine can’t be enjoyed as it should, and a blessing because it has been preserved in near perfect condition.  With Murray being the last, and only person who has ever ridden the Vincent, it is probably the lowest mileage Black Shadow in the world.  This is supported by the advertisement placed in MPH by Nhon and by the three owners subsequent to Murray, none of whom have actually ridden this rare and high modified example of the Vincent marque.

 The true provenance of the Saigon Shadow may never be known.  Ted Davies, in conversation with Prosper Keating in 1992 recalls, along with the Lightnings, the factory took two Black Shadows and a spare engine to Montlhery.  Later, in the January 1993 edition of MPH, Davies said there were three record specification Black Shadows and a slightly modified ‘hack’ Shadow.  Two of the Black Shadows were returned to the factory and have been accounted for, as has the hack, but going on Davies’ account, there may still a Montlhery prepared Black Shadow that is whereabouts unknown, or perhaps not?

From the UK factory racing team via the French High Commissioner of Indochina to the last emperor of Vietnam and then a Vietnamese bohemian, the Black Shadow of Saigon was part of a cosmopolitan history of power, conflict and control that was rescued by an Australian adventurer.

Little did I know, the Vincent motorcycle I used to hear about running around the hills near my home in the South West of Western Australia was once used as an incentive by the US and the French to help stem the global spread of communism.

— Sincere thanks to Ms Jacqui RAYNES Mr Stephen CARSON and Mr John RANDEL for their assistance in compiling this article.

RAAF photos supplied by Jacqui Raynes. Murray is the second from right.

Murray Raynes did well at school except in academics; he joined a water polo club and became a great boozer; trained as an electrician and never wired a house; a fighter pilot and never fired a shot in anger; flew big jets commercially and has a host of stories relating to very questionable, and sometimes outrageous, practices and behaviour from that industry. He has snorkelled, skied, ridden horses in most parts of the planet and completed a solo circumnavigation of the globe in a yacht (Raynes: A Fighter Pilot with Attitude, 2005).



1981 BMW R100CS – $26,000

SELLER SAYS: August 1981 BMW R100CS for sale. This bike is one of the first shipments to Australia and comes with original spoke wheels. Bike was restored over a 3 year period. Items replaced were sourced from NOS. Original parts will also come with bike. She is in immaculate condition with some patina. A full history of bike comes with original documentation, all receipts and a comprehensive log of all work performed which includes parts, work performed, receipts and timeline. The colour is a dark British Racing Green with Cyrillic pearl. Bike is on Vic Club Plates. Prospective buyers encouraged to call the number listed (please do not text). Happy to forward all information such as photos and log via email. Contact Glen on 0428 311 205 (Briagolong, Vic.)

2008 Ducati Monster 696 Plus – $8,950

SELLER SAYS: Up for sale is this beautiful 2008 red Ducati Monster 696 plus. Style, comfort and attitude packed into one. One awesome machine to ride, guaranteed to give you a smile from ear to ear. New front and rear Pirelli Rosso tyres recently fitted. Other extras fitted include Termignoni mufflers, Rizoma handle bars and risers, custom rear-sets, frame protectors, new mirrors and hand grips, shorty clutch and brake levers and CTEK trickle charger (paddock stand not included). Please contact Joel on 0407 771 057 (Willetton, Perth WA).


2008 Ducati Monster 696 Plus – $8,950

SELLER SAYS: Up for sale is this beautiful 2008 red Ducati Monster 696 plus. Style, comfort and attitude packed into one. One awesome machine to ride, guaranteed to give you a smile from ear to ear. New front and rear Pirelli Rosso tyres recently fitted. Other extras fitted include Termignoni mufflers, Rizoma handle bars and risers, custom rear-sets, frame protectors, new mirrors and hand grips, shorty clutch and brake levers and CTEK trickle charger (paddock stand not included). Please contact Joel on 0407 771 057 (Willetton, Perth WA).