12 May 2020

The World's Most Expensive Harley-Davidson

Would you pay more than a million dollars for a Harley-Davidson? Well, someone did. And will again.

Not being in any way pretentious, renowned US avant-garde artist, Jack Armstrong created this piece of motorcycle art using his controversial “Cosmic Extensionalism” technique developed, some say, during his time hanging out with Andy Warhol some 20 years ago. You can fill in the dots.

Nevertheless, the otherwise humble 2002 Harley-Davidson V-Rod was created and wildly promoted as a valuable work of art following an idea conceived by Robert Star of Starglobal International, himself a Harley enthusiast.

“The style of the 2002 Harley V-Rod was revolutionary, and it was the most futuristic creation in motorcycles I had ever seen,” Armstrong is quoted as saying ahead of the launch. “For several years between 2003-2004 when I lived in Switzerland, I rode V-Rods with seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher. So the V-Rod was my only choice for the most expensive motorcycle in history.”

Yeah, Armstrong is a bit of a namedropper.

The Cosmic Harley-Davidson was unveiled at a major event at Bartels” Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey, California in 2010 with a $1 million price tag. It later went on to fetch an eye-watering $3 million after the machine was featured in the respected DuPont Registry publication.

You can make up your own mind about the artistic merit of this work, but there is no doubt that these ‘entrepreneurs’ conjured a gold mine for themselves.

Wouldn’t you know? The Cosmic Starship is back on the market for the paltry sum of US$15 million. So we suggest you get a wriggle on before some Saudi prince beats you to it.

Looking for something a little more modest? Check out Harley-Heaven’s new and pre-owned machines today.

08 May 2020

Indiana Jones and the Softail Springer

Harley-Davidson motorcycles in movies is hardly a new topic, but it sure is fun to track them all down and decide if it’s fake or real and if it’s real, what model Harley is it?

Who remembers 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth and most recent in the Indian Jones franchise? Well, hey, you either loved or didn’t, but for Harley fans, there was a half-decent chase sequence filmed in the actual grounds of Yale University.

Set in 1957, the ‘greaser’ character ‘Mutt Williams’ takes our hero on a wild escapade as they try to outrun some Russian baddies. Stunt doubles do a pretty fair job of throwing the big HOG around the leafy grounds of the famous university. So … what bike was it?

As it turns out, the bikes (plural, because five were prepared for the movie) are 2007 Softail Springer Classics, supplied by The Motor Company to custom motorcycle magician Justin Kell of Glory Motor Works expressly for the movie. Kell said, "it’s modelled to be a postwar Knucklehead."

Kell built the bike using "one bad pixelated picture on a sheet of A4 paper" as his guide. Ripping off the sheet metal and the chrome and hollowing out the exhaust, he lightened the bike by about 30kgs and added about 30 horsepower. Both improvements were necessary because of the high-speed stunts, including riding a staircase in one scene.

Anyone can see the disc brakes are a modern giveaway, although Kell "tried to work with different ways to cover them," he said, "the stunts put such a strain on the suspension that nothing would work without being dangerous."

We really should do a whole separate blog post on Kell because he makes awesome bikes for Hollywood, so stay tuned.

on display at the H-D Museum (Flickr user Yeti9000)
Of the five machines, two were retained by the production company, one was destroyed during filming and at least two went back to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee where they are on rotating display.

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