According to Vintagent, a website that keeps track of sales of vintage motorcycles, the most expensive motorcycle ever sold at an auction was a very special 1908 Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was auctioned off in January.
At the Mecum Auction in Las Vegas on January 28, the Strap Tank Harley-Davidson sold for $935,000 before fees, according to the Facebook auction post. Because the fuel and oil tanks were suspended from the bike’s frame by nickel-plated steel bands, the model was named Strap Tank.
“We marketed the bike well, and Harley is by far the most famous American motorcycle brand, so we had a feeling it would do well in auction, but obviously you are surprised anytime you sell the most expensive bike ever,” said Greg Arnold, Motorcycle Division Manager at Mecum Auctions.
Arnold stated that although the record-breaking bike had been restored, many of its original parts, such as the tank, wheels, engine belt pulley, seat cover, and muffler sleeve, were still present.
David Uihlein found the complete motorcycle in a Wisconsin barn in 1941, which led to the auction in Las Vegas. It remained in the possession of Uihlein for the following 66 years.
After that, Paul Freehill of Fort Wayne, Indiana, performed an expert restoration on the Strap Tank.
Only 12 of the company’s 450 motorcycles produced in 1908 are believed to be still in existence, and even fewer are in mostly original condition.
Because it was the first of its kind, the Strap Tank was listed as one of Harley-Davidson’s most prized surviving models on the auction website. Since earlier prototypes are long gone, it is also the earliest model that could possibly be found.
The most coveted models are said to be the most famous because they set the standard for future production: they had heavy-duty cycle parts, clean, conservative styling, a moody color scheme, and an engine that was a little bigger and stronger than the others.
After fees, an unrestored 1907 Strap Tank sold for $715,000.