1947 Harley-Davidson 61ci EL ‘Knucklehead’

Without question one of the most handsome and readily recognizable motorcycle power units of all time, the Harley-Davidson 61ci overhead-valve v-twin - known as the ‘Knucklehead’ after its distinctively shaped rocker boxes - arrived powering a stylish all-new motorcycle in 1936. A twin-loop frame was deemed necessary to handle the 61’s increased power (37bhp in ‘E’ and 40bhp in high-compression ‘EL’ forms) while the front suspension too was beefed up, the forks switching to oval tubing in place of the previous forged I-beams. Teething problems associated with the earliest examples had been sorted out by 1937 and the Milwaukee factory quickly set about establishing the EL’s performance credentials, Joe Petrali setting a new speed record of 136mph at Daytona Beach on March of that year while Fred Ham later averaged 76mph for 24 hours at Murco Dry Lake in California to set a new best mark. Progressively improved, the ohv Harley became available in 74ci (FL) form from 1941, remaining a cornerstone of the Milwaukee range in ‘Panhead’ and later ‘Shovelhead’ versions until superseded by the Evolution-engined bikes in the 1980s. The vendor purchased this fine ‘Knucklehead’ in New Mexico in July 2001. Apparently all original, as far as can be determined, the machine boasts a restored correct speedometer and benefits from a recent repaint. Reported as running perfectly, it is offered with current State of California Certificate of Title.