1969 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide
Sold: $US256,000 ($A347,150)
Sandy Burgoyne keeps an eye on the auction world
What provenance – in the ownership of actor Marlon Brando from 1970 until his death.
In 1953, as Johnny Strabler, the leader of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Brando mumbled, scowled and emoted his way through The Wild One.
This film about rebellious youth includes the famous exchange “what are you rebelling against” to which Johnny replies “Whatcha got?”
The Wild One is tied forever in public memory to the Harley-Davidson brand, but Johnny rode a Triumph Thunderbird and his merry men rode a mixture of other British marques. Chino, Johnny’s rival played by Lee Marvin, was the man riding the Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide.
Brando was a motorcycle rider before making The Wild One and movie legend holds that he rode his own Triumph Thunderbird in the film.
A Shovelhead engine powered the FLH. The distinctive 1207cc V-twin has OHV with two-valves per cylinder, a bore and stroke measuring 87.3 x 100.8 mm and a compression ratio of 8:1. The Electra in the name shows it has electric start.
The Shovel was a development of the Panhead engine. The new engine delivered more power than the Panhead, but some riders criticised the greater weight and the change to the centre of gravity. A 1970 road test noted the FLH was “a slow stopper” because of its heavy weight and limited brake area.
Brando’s Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide showed 13,859 miles (22,304 km) on the clock and the original Notice of Transfer dated 8 April 1970 was included in the sale. The pre-auction estimate was between $200,000 and $US400,000.
This lot was sold at the Hollywood Legends auction, in Beverley Hills, California, US.
From: Julien’s Auctions | Pic credit: Julien’s
This article appears in Motorcycle Trader #298