Imagine opening the doors of a forgotten barn and coming across an incredible collection of vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles. That's the exciting discovery documented by the “Backyard Barn Finds” YouTube channel. In this article, we'll explore this unique collection, which includes the famous 'Knuckleheads' and trikes, and delve into the history of these two-wheeled gems.
The 'Knuckleheads', nicknamed after the shape of the valve covers, were a milestone in Harley-Davidson's history. They represented the company's third generation of “big twin” engines, succeeding the Flathead and being later replaced by the Panhead in 1948. These engines were pioneers in defining the layout that Harley-Davidson still uses in its Milwaukee-Eight engines.
The video begins with the presentation of one of the most unique 'Knuckleheads' that the owner of the collection can be proud to own. A 1939 version, painted in a stunning shade of turquoise, this bike is circa original 90%, a remarkable feat for a machine that is 84 years old as of 2023. Despite its worn appearance, this Harley-Davidson has been restored and the engine's Knucklehead' has been remade.
This bike also has some unique features from this year of manufacture, including a gearbox with neutral between second and third gear. It's no surprise that it's one of the most valuable bikes in this collection, as 1939 'Knuckleheads' in similar condition can fetch between $50,000 and $100,000.
The collection doesn't stop there. It also includes a version from 1936, the debut year of the 'Knucklehead', considered the “Holy Grail” of Harley-Davidsons with this engine. While this isn't as original as the 1939 version as it has been restored with several reproduction parts, the owner estimates that about 50% of it is original, which is impressive given how rare these 'Knuckleheads' are.
In addition to these iconic bikes from the 1930s, the barn houses a few iterations from the 1940s, including a version from 1947. Surprisingly, these bikes are still in working order and maintain their stunning looks. And if you're a fan of the legendary WLDs, the owner also has a 1940 variant, although this has undergone modifications over the years.
The collection is not just limited to motorcycles, as it also houses two classic trikes. These are part of the Servi-Car lineage and left the production line between 1937 and 1939. They are relatively old models, as the Servi-Car was introduced in 1932.
For those unfamiliar with Harley-Davidson's first trike, the Servi-Car was designed during the Great Depression as a way to expand the company's product base and increase sales. It was intended for automotive repair shops and was offered with a tow bar and a larger battery. Over time, the Servi-Car became popular as a utility vehicle for small businesses and police departments.
Powered by various versions of the company's Flathead engine, the trike remained in production until 1973. It was the last Harley-Davidson vehicle to utilize the old Flathead engine and the last trike until the introduction of the Tri Glide Ultra Classic in 2009.
For those who aren't fans of vintage motorcycles, the barn also houses a small collection of pre-World War II American classics. You'll see a 1940 Packard, a 1947 Cadillac, and even a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr. The latter is one of the gems of the 1930s, with a 4.4-liter V12 under the hood. Check out all these treasures in the video below.
This secret barn's collection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and American classics is a treasure from the past, a testament to the passion for iconic vehicles, and a reminder that history on wheels is always ready to surprise and delight. Thanks to the 'Backyard Barn Finds' channel for introducing us to this incredible collection and sharing these exciting stories with enthusiasts around the world.