Harley Hunt and Rescue



A few years back I was visiting a gentleman that had some cars for sale. The stuff was all stored in an industrial area either inside or around a sizable warehouse. Behind a locked chainlink gate, stuff deep in a corner against a tower of boxes I spied this beauty peeking out...I had to ask. Initially I was turned away but after some time had passed and significant amount of begging and pleading, the owner agreed to let the bike go. I hopped in the truck as fast as I could and headed over to his place before he changed his mind. Keep in mind at this point that the image above was all I had seen of it as the gate was locked and blocked, but this peek was all I need to know that I wanted it. The bike was just screaming "save me", I could not deny that cry.



The series of pics above show the bike as found and its first glimpse of the sun in many many years. It took a fair bit of effort to get it out of its tomb, but once it emerged we could really see what we were dealing with. The owner didnt recall the exact year of the bike but after checking the numbers we identified it as a 1931 Harley VL with the high compression 45 cu in engine. The story behind the bike was that it was bought many years ago from its original rider. I say original rider, rather than owner, as it was originally a police spec bike for the California Highway Patrol and this gentleman was the officer who rode it. After many years in service the bile was retired and the office bought it from the department for himself. The logos and sirens had to come off , so the tank was repainted at the time, but for the most part it remained original and intact. It had been sitting in the same spot for about 20 years or so, but sat elsewhere for much longer before that.


Once loaded in the truck and on the road again, the dust slowly blew away to reveal a little more of the hidden beauty. It felt so good to get it out of there and see to it that a better life was ahead than to sit and rot like it was. A bike like this deserves better than that and it was a very exciting adventure to go grab it.

It just looked so amazing in the back of the truck, such a wonderful relic of times past and a dream find for a lifetime hunter like myself. On the way back to the lab, a quick lunch stop and a cold beer to celebrate the successful rescue and retrieval. Got a seat on the patio so I could stare at it while I ate. The best view of any restaurant I can recall. Just look at that gorgeous beast!


Back at the Carchaeology laboratories I could really take it all in. The bike was such a perfect specimen just as it sat, I just could not bring myself to disturb that. A true "barn find" original just has such an amazing presence to it. Other than a very light dusting to reveal details, I wanted to keep it just as it was. Mother Nature's finest work on a truly incredible bit of California motorcycle history.

I kept the bike for a while in my own little man cave and spent countless hours inspecting it and dreaming about it. After some time I realized that as amazing as it was to just drool on, that there was another step that I would have to take to insure that it would be preserved for future generations. A new home had to be found. The bike was put up for sale and found an amazing home with a heavy collector of vintage cars and motorcycles here in California , where the bike has always been. He promised not to restore it, but to preserve it and celebrate its history. I knew he was the right guy for the bike when the very next day after he took delivery, he had it out at an event and was sharing the find with all who passed. A dusty thumbs up on that! My job here is done. An epic find, a fantastic story and a wonderful new home.


A magical find and a memorable adventure in Carchaeology ( or would that be Bikeaeology?)


Keep on hunting, they are still out there! Cheers! Randy

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©2019 TVA / Randy Carlson