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Lot 841: 1940 Harley-Davidson ULH Flathead 80ci Sport Solo

Collectors' Motorcycles and Related Memorabilia, Bonhams & Butterfields (10 November 2007)

Announced in August 1929 as a replacement for the much-loved two-cam ‘pocket valve’ J-type, the Model U’s progenitor - the Model V - was far from an instant success. More massively built and heavier than its predecessor, the V lacked top end power to such an extent that the first examples were recalled for an extensive engine redesign. A larger crankcase accommodating heavier flywheels did the trick and, its problems solved, the V series ‘flat head’ twins went on to win the hearts of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts everywhere. An 80ci (1,300cc) VLH arrived for 1935, joining the existing V and VL (high-compression) 74s. Revised with the frame, tank and wheels of the 61ci overhead-valve ‘Knucklehead’, plus dry-sump lubrication, the V became the Model U for 1938. Inside the engine there was virtually nothing left unchanged: the crankpin was enlarged, connecting rods strengthened and the flywheels grew in size, while in the interests of rationalizing production, the ‘74’s bore size changed to that of the ohv ‘61’ and stroke to that of the ‘80’. Improved and updated annually throughout the late 1930s, the old ‘flat head’ U series recommenced production after WWII, finally disappearing from the range at the end of 1948.

Purchased by the vendor in ‘basket case’ condition in the mid-1990s, this Harley UL is offered fresh from a recently completed two-year process of restoration. Reported as running perfectly, the machine is offered with State of California Certificate of Title.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcycles and Related Memorabilia
Bonhams & Butterfields, The Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California
Lot Number841
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$20500
Hammer Price (inc premium)$23985
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis numberCA861860
Engine number40ULH1618
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors