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Harley-Davidson EL record set, then in Las Vegas

The unrestored 1940 EL, sold by Bonhams. Photo Bonhams Auctions.

When the 1940 Harley-Davidson EL took stage in Las Vegas last the crowd on hand helped a bidding war that saw prices escalate beyond six figures. the sale concluded, the winning had paid $159,000 (including fees) for the honor of adding the EL from the Pierce Family to their collection, setting a new record price for the model at That record would for a mere 48 hours, as just two later a rival auction had sold a fully restored Harley-Davidson EL for an even higher of $179,850 (including buyer’s once again establishing a for the model at auction.

Launched without ceremony in the Harley-Davidson EL was an entirely new motorcycle the ground up. Debuting a duplex-tube the EL also introduced Harley-Davidson’s large-displacement (60.33-cu.in.) V-twin engine, named for the distinctive of its valve covers, to a production (though the brand had previous racing overhead-valve engines).

The EL also introduced a pump-driven oil system as well as a four-speed and its teardrop-shaped dual gas tanks a fixture of Harley-Davidson design to day. Erring on the side of for its radical new motorcycle, Harley-Davidson minimized marketing efforts, so far as to exclude the knucklehead from product catalogs in case the didn’t live up to the brand’s History tells us that the EL was a and the knucklehead engine remained in until 1947, replaced by the V-twin engine in 1948.

Bonhams sold the unrestored on Thursday, January 9, (briefly) a new world record price for the at auction. Said to be among Pierce’s favorite motorcycles, the EL an in-period aftermarket green scheme, as well as period such as twin rear bars, chrome fender and embossed leather Harley-Davidson complete with decorative For the buyer desiring patina, example’s originality certainly to its value.

The restored 1936 EL, sold by MidAmerica/Mecum Auctions. courtesy Mecum Auctions.

Auctions set a new record for the model two days later, selling a 1936 Harley-Davidson EL from the Pardos Collection for a price of A stunning example of a first year EL, the motorcycle was restored by Ken in the late 1990s, and judged out of 100 at Antique Motorcycle Club of meets in both 1998 and Described by MidAmerica as “close to the Venetian Blue with Cream EL has been featured in a of paintings by artist David including Rose , The Real . and The Art of the Motorcycle .

This 1911 Harley-Davidson 7D sold for $283,400. Photo of Mecum Auctions.

Rounding out the top five sales at the Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction an unraced 1978 Ducati 900 which sold for $175,500; a Ducati 750SS. which for $137,000; a second 1973 750SS. which sold for and a 1954 BMW Rennsport RS54. sold for $126,000. At the MidAmerica other motorcycles in the top five a 1911 Harley Davidson 7D which sold for $283,400; a BMW R37. which sold for a 1955 Vincent Black which sold for $136,250; and a Harley-Davidson 10F Twin. which for $114,250.

For full results Bonhams’s Las Vegas sale, Bonhams.com. For full results the MidAmerica/Mecum Las Vegas sale, Mecum.com .

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