Bill Harley’s Experimental Knucklehead Headed to Auction
One of one prototype showcasing second gen Knucklehead presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Back in the late ’30s, Harley-Davidson co-founder William S. Harley was pushing hard for Knucklehead engine development. In response, the company was hard at work on a second gen version of the venerable engine. This time a rather advanced (in its day) 52-inch overhead valve version. A grand total of five experimental Harleys were built during this time period, but only one of them had aluminum heads and barrels.
And that’s exactly the bike you see before you. Somewhat of the mishmash you’d expect from a prototype, the Knucklehead uses a 1938 lower and an oil pump from a 1937 model. The engine features narrow cams and an oversized cam cover, an A-frame-style head, and drilled lifter blocks. And of course, the domed pistons that Bill Harley himself championed for, a design that sought to end overheating problems.
Shortly after it was built, this particular bike was sold to Roy Egeberg, who was a Harley dealer at the time. It remained in his possession until 1974. To this day, many believe it’s the only experimental Harley to ever be released by the factory. And most likely the only one that remains intact to this day.
Many believe this 1937 Knucklehead is the only experimental Harley to ever be released by the factory. And most likely the only one that remains intact to this day.
A star in its own right, the historic Harley has also been featured in both Herb Wagner’s Harley-Davidson 1930-1941 and Jerry Hatfield’s Inside Harley-Davidson.
Today, this incredibly rare and historic ride is heading to auction as it seeks a new owner. Pre-bidding has already begun at Bid Network Online ahead of the auction on August 1. The current estimate stands at $235,250, which seems like a reasonable deal for a Harley so rich with documentation and historical significance. Now, we just need to talk to someone about a loan…