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They sold a 115-year-old motorcycle at a record price: the story of the Harley Davidson Mona Lisa


It is the 1908 Strap Tank, of which there are 12 units left in the world. They just paid $935,000. How is it in the ranking of the most expensive.


Strap Tank is one of the most important models in the history of Harley-Davidson

, and today a true rarity, since it is the oldest motorcycle that can be found from the brand even in the most specialized circles.

So much so that this 1908 unit, and better preserved than any other of the time,

fetched US$935,000 at auction in Las Vegas, a figure that ranks it among the most expensive in history


To understand its dimension,

the Strap Tank is the first model that the brand produced in its fledgling factory on Chestnut Street, in Milwaukee

, now known as Juneau Avenue and which is still its headquarters.

But above all it has the added value of being

the direct evolution of the first prototypes built at the beginning of the 20th century by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson

, who originally made and distributed bicycles and decided to jump even without the knowledge that many of them had. their competitors, usually engineers or pilots.

Harley Davidson Strap Tank from 1908.

For this they got down to work in 1901, and it was not until two years later that they had their first motorcycle ready.

It was equipped with a 116 cc single-cylinder engine, so underpowered that they had to add pedals so that the driver could help it up the slopes.

From this first experience,

the partners worked to develop another 440 cc that delivered around 4 CV


That was a turning point, something unique for that time, and it was perhaps one of the most solid pillars with which Harley-Davidson began to build its reputation, which continues to rise to this day.

This is how the Mona Lisa of the Harley Davidson was sold

It is from the year 1908 and $935,000 was paid at an auction held in Las Vegas,

The result was put to the test in a local race in 1904, which gave them the confidence to, a year later, announce in the newspapers that they would build the first five motorcycles destined for sale.

A figure that would grow year by year: in 2022, the brand reported having manufactured 193,500 units.

Why is the Mona Lisa of the Harley Davidson

The Strap Tank is a fundamental piece for the history of the brand and of


in general, then, and for this reason

it earned the nickname of "the Mona Lisa" of Harley-Davidson


And like all works of art of this caliber, this auctioned piece is almost unique: barely 450 were made in 1908, of which less than a dozen are known today.

Harley Davidson Strap Tank from 1908.

The striking state of conservation of this Harley Davidson finds part of its reasons in 1941, when David Uihlein, heir to the fortune of the now extinct Schlitz brewery, discovered it immaculate in a field barn – one of the first barn finds in those on record?--, about 110 kilometers from Milwaukee.

He took her to his house, and there he left her for the next 66 years


In other words, for almost a century she remained in her home state of Wisconsin, without major displacements or traumatic episodes.

Despite having benefited from expert restoration work,

the auction included many key original parts

, such as the tank, the tires - very similar to those of a bicycle -, the engine belt pulley, the cover seat and muffler sleeve.

Harley Davidson Strap Tank from 1908.

The presence of such a specimen in the auction headed by the Mecum house aroused the attention of the most demanding collectors from all over the world, who did not take long to lead a bid that escalated at high speed to US$ 850,000,

the final price reached by this 115-year-old motorcycle but, with taxes included, brought the figure to US$ 935,000


That makes this

1908 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank the second-highest value auctioned motorcycle in history


A surprising fact, but one that also has its precedents: the last known operation for a comparable Harley-Davidson was in March 2015 and reached US$650,000.

Harley Davidson Strap Tank from 1908.


the top spot is held by another Harley Davidson: the 1969 Captain America Panhead

, which fetched $1,350,000 in 2014.

It is one of the models used in the popular film from the late 60s, "Easy Rider", Dennis Hopper's debut, in which Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson participated, among other figures.

With the Strap Tank on the second step of the podium,

it displaced the now third, the 1951 Vincent Black Lightning Jack Ehret: in 2018 they shelled out $923,000 at a Bonhams auction


This British bike is one of 30 examples built by Vincent, it belonged to Australian record holder Jack Ehret.

It was sold in Australia and in 1953 the bike broke that country's speed record, when Jack Ehret reached an average speed of 227.7 km/h.

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Source: clarin

All tech articles on 2023-02-03

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