Gray vintage motorcycle in front of brick wall

Harley-Davidson designed just 450 bikes in 1908.
Mecum Auctions

A Harley-Davidson bike constructed in 1908 has turn into the most highly-priced motorcycle ever bought, experiences the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Beck Andrew Salgado. 

The motorcycle is a Strap Tank model, named for the nickel-plated metal bands employed to attach the oil and fuel tanks to the body. It garnered $935,000 at an auction in Las Vegas late very last month. 

Harley-Davidson designed only 450 bikes in 1908—and only a handful continue to exist currently, according to Mecum Auctions. The document-breaking bicycle nonetheless has numerous of its unique elements, together with the muffler sleeve, engine belt pulley, wheels, tank and seat cover.

In 1941, businessman David Uihlein identified the bicycle in a barn located around 70 miles from Milwaukee, for every the auction home. He held onto the obtain for 66 years, then worked with Indiana-primarily based collector Paul Freehill to restore it to its previous glory. Now, the bicycle is typically gray with pink accent striping and a vivid orange Harley-Davidson symbol.

The restoration is 1 reason why the bike commanded these types of a superior rate, but even the auction house’s specialists ended up stunned by how much it sold for.

Close-up shot of orange Harley-Davidson logo

David Uihlein identified the bicycle in 1941, then restored it with support from Paul Freehill.

Mecum Auctions

“We promoted the bicycle very well, and Harley is by significantly the most well-known American motorcycle manufacturer so we had a feeling it would do properly in auction, but clearly you are astonished at any time you promote the most pricey bicycle ever,” claims Greg Arnold, Mecum’s motorbike division supervisor, to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Strap Tank is the oldest Harley-Davidson motorbike collectors can have, as earlier products have been dropped to historical past, per the auction property. Crews created the Strap Tank model in the company’s one-tale factory on Chestnut Road, now Juneau Avenue, in Milwaukee.

“These earliest Harley-Davidson Strap Tanks are the most coveted of all Milwaukee equipment,” writes Mecum Auctions. “They recognized the pattern for all long term output, combining a thoroughly clean nevertheless conservative styling, a somber shade scheme, heavy-obligation cycle pieces and an engine a minimal more substantial and much better than the rest.”

close-up shot of Harley-Davidson logo on motorcycle

The motorcycle even now has a lot of of its primary parts, which helped maximize its price.

Mecum Auctions

Milwaukee-based mostly friends William Harley and Arthur Davidson, alongside with Davidson’s brothers William and Walter, launched the corporation in 1903. They started out small, developing prototypes in a get rid of. Inevitably, the enterprise grew to come to be one of the finest-regarded motorcycle brands in the planet.

When the company turned 100 in 2003, Robert F. Howe wrote for Smithsonian journal that the Harley-Davidson bike has “evolved into an American touchstone.”

Even the sound of its engine is widely acknowledged. “Not only can you hear it, you can really feel it,” Tom Bolfert, who was head of the company’s archives, informed Smithsonian. “It has a primal seem, like a heartbeat.”

By Tara