1941 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead Is a Black Speck of American Motorcycle History


Being the owner of a motorcycle museum in the U.S. must be an incredibly rewarding experience. It gives one first-hand access to a large number of rare two-wheelers, ones most of us only get to experience on the screen of some computer or, at best, during some show somewhere.

Luckily, from time to time, such collections become available to the larger public, as for one reason or another museum owners decide to sell. And for collection owners, there are few occasions as alluring to go searching for buyers than Mecum’s Las Vegas auction in April.

It is there where a Tacoma, Washington museum once owned by someone name J.C. Burgin will seek the collectors’ interested in one of the nearly 30 rare motorcycles, most of them Harleys, each of them carefully restored to their former shine, and each with their own story to tell.

So does this one here, a Harley FL Knucklehead born in the same year America was forced to join the Second World War. That was just before the bike maker started producing the 90,000 WLAs for the war effort, a year when almost 2,500 others like this one were made.

That number is a small one even in the motorcycle world, and makes every example that has survived to this day a machine worth at least a careful look.
This particular one entered the said museum in 1995, and it is the last of its kind to have been restored by the organization. Wrapped in black, it keeps all of the hardware it had back when it was new, but sports a first-year 74ci Knucklehead engine, tied to a 4-speed transmission.

Just as it usually does, Mecum does not say how much it expects to get for this motorcycle. For reference, the price of the two-wheeler when it was new was $425 ($7,600 adjusted for inflation).



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