The legend and history of Vincent Motorcycles both loom large over the motorcycling community. Upon seeing a Vincent motorcycle in the flesh for the first time, you’re instantly struck by the lines and proportions. Sure, it helps that most Vincents you’ll see now have undoubtedly been well cared for by their current custodians, but all the polishing in the world couldn’t help if it was anything less than it is. 

How much do you know about the man behind the marque, though? Philip Vincent is revered today as a design genius whose insatiable search for speed was seemingly relentless, up until it wasn’t. By 1955, a Vincent Black Lightning had set a new world speed record of 185 miles per hour—but just months after that crowning achievement, the company closed shop. The man behind the myth and legend that bore his name never brought another bike to market—and eventually died in 1979, having spent the family fortune on the development of his precious motorcycles. 

There’s more to it than the dry facts, though, as there always is when families are involved. That’s the story that writer and director David Lancaster set out to tell with his documentary film, Speed Is Expensive: Philip Vincent and the Million Dollar Motorcycle. The story is told through the eyes and experiences of Vincent’s grandson, Philip Vincent-Day. A man who, like so many people, wants to learn more about his family history. 

Speed Is Expensive Poster

Narrated by Ewan McGregor, the film features a range of interviews from a variety of people, including Jay Leno, Paul Simonon, John Surtees, and Marty Dickerson. Philip Vincent’s friends and family also sat for interviews, as did some surviving Vincent factory workers. The absolute pièce de résistance may just be previously undiscovered archival footage of Philip Vincent himself that appears in the film. All in all, it’s a one-of-a-kind documentary about an extraordinary piece of motorcycling history, and one that took over 10 years to make. 

Speed Is Expensive premiered at the 2022 Barnes Film Festival held at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London, UK. If you missed it, there’s good news, though, because as of May 15, 2023, it now has worldwide distribution deals in place. Lightbulb Film Distribution will distribute the film in the UK and Ireland, whilst Virgil Films has rights in the North American market. It is also seeking international sales at the Cannes Film Market, according to Variety

A limited theatrical release is planned in North America, and should happen sometime in September 2023, if all goes according to Virgil’s plan. Following that, there should be “a multi-platform digital high definition release a month later.”