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Lot 306: c1928 Harley-Davidson Model J Motorcycle & Sidecar

Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams & Butterfields (12 November 2005)

1909 marked the appearance of Harley-Davidson’s first v-twin, though it was not until the adoption of mechanically operated inlet valves in 1911 (replacing the ‘atmospheric’ type inherited from the single) that production really took off. Known by the soubriquet ‘pocket valve’, this inlet-over-exhaust engine - built in 61 and 74cu cm capacities - would remain in production for the next 20 years. The Harley single’s transmission arrangements - direct drive by means of a leather belt - were continued at first on the twin, but the need to make better use of the engine’s power characteristics, particularly for sidecar pulling, prompted the introduction of a two-speed rear hub for 1914, by which time chain drive and a proper clutch had been adopted. Later that same year a conventional, three-speed, sliding-gear transmission with ‘step starter’ was introduced on the top-of-the-range version of the twin which, with full electrical equipment, was listed from now on as the Model J. Periodically revised and up-dated, the Model J had gained a front brake, stronger fork and pumped lubrication by the time production ceased in 1929.

This late example of Harley’s landmark original v-twin is fitted with a sidecar believed built by the Blackpool firm of Swallow, a company founded by William Lyons and the forerunner of SS and Jaguar cars. Both motorcycle and sidecar appear to have been restored to a very good standard many years ago. Paintwork is the correct khaki green with red and gold pin-striping and orange lettering. The motorcycle itself appears complete and correct in all respects, but would seem to have been used following restoration and then stored for an extended period. It would benefit from partial disassembly for an extensive cleaning and detailing. This machine’s mechanical condition is unknown.

Lot Details
Auction Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams & Butterfields, Petersen Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Lot Number306
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$25000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$28750
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