This previous week, January 24-28, was the thirty second annual Mecum “Classic & Vintage Motorbike Public sale” in Las Vegas, held on the South Level Resort & On line casino. Almost 2000 bikes crossed the public sale block, together with bikes from some 15 non-public collections similar to Jim’s Ceaselessly Assortment, Mike Wolfe’s As Discovered Assortment, and the BMW Centennial Choice from the Black Forest Assortment, amongst many others.
Nevertheless, it was a 1908 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank (Lot S174.1) that stole the present. One of many oldest surviving fashions of an extremely uncommon breed, it was found in a barn exterior Milwaukee in 1941, stored in Wisconsin for 66 years, and comprehensively restored by Paul Freehill of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“There isn’t any extra essential mannequin than the legendary Strap Tank — it’s the primary of the breed, and the earliest Harley-Davidson mannequin one will ever discover, because the prototypes that preceded it are lengthy gone.” -Mecum
Harley-Davidson produced solely 450 of the fashions in 1908, and fewer than a dozen are thought to outlive — and few in such situation as this one.
In 1905, William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson started manufacturing in a small wood shed, turning out simply 5 bikes in that first 12 months. In 1906, they moved to a brand new manufacturing facility on what would develop into Juneau Avenue — nonetheless house to Harley-Davidson HQ — and produced about 50 bikes.
These early fashions earned the identify “Strap Tank” as a result of nickel-plated metal bands that droop the gas and oil tanks from the body.
Harley turned out about 150 bikes in 1907, and 450 in 1908.
“These earliest Harley-Davidson Strap Tanks are essentially the most coveted of all Milwaukee equipment. They established the sample for all future manufacturing, combining a clear but conservative styling, a somber coloration scheme, heavy-duty cycle elements and an engine a bit larger and stronger than the remainder.” -Mecum
Only a few of the surviving Strap Tanks are as appropriate and authentic as this one, which incorporates the unique tank, wheels, engine belt pulley, seat cowl and muffler sleeve. The engine isn’t any. 2241, and the carburetor no. 1049.
Clearly, various of us thought this 1908 Tank Strap was a very distinctive machine, because the hammer dropped at $850,000. Add within the estimated Purchaser’s Premium and charges, and this 115-year-old Harley-Davidson commanded a mind-blowing $935,000 — a brand new world report!
The bike now tops The Vintagent’s record of the Prime 100 Most Costly Bikes, beating out the 1951 Vincent Black Lightning that bought for $929,000 in 2018.