In 1946, President Truman declared the official end of WWII, the first computer was designed, the first bikini was modeled in Paris, Joe Louis was heavyweight champ, and professional baseball had their first night games. It was also the year that this Harley Davidson FL rolled out the factory door and seeing this bike on display at the 18th Annual Super Show and Swap in Colorado Springs grabbed my attention and required a closer inspection.
The FL or “Knucklehead” had a 74 cubic inch overhead valve which was typical of WWII post production of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company when they returned to manufacturing civilian motorcycles. Approximately 3,986 of these models were built in 1946 which was a tremendous jump from the 619 that rolled out the door in 1945.
Available in two color schemes which was either red or gray and black, the ’46 models are often referred to by Harley enthusiasts as “plain Jane”. The “Knuckle” did feature more shiny adornments though than had been seen on Harley-Davidson’s since 1940 even though chrome was hard to come by after the war.
The 30-degree “bull neck” frame was only used by H-D in 1946 and it was the last year for items such as the speedometer light switch, teardrop style tank emblems, brown leather saddle, plastic starter pedal, and beehive style taillight.
This bike originally was owned by “Fireman John” of Colorado Springs, CO and was held in parts by Bucky Varrone for many years. Bucky rebuilt the motor and tranny and it was carefully restored to its present condition by Mike “Hawk” Scofield.
In 1946, you could walk into a Harley-Davidson dealer with $465.00 in your pocket and ride one home but today after being brought back to life from cardboard boxes and cobwebs, this bike is worth nearly $20,000.
Presently on exhibit, this beautifully restored bike was acquired in 1997 by the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Colorado Springs, CO.
Take a ride into the past sometime and take a close look at this bike and others that were rolling down the road ~ back in the day.