1938 Harley-Davidson 74ci UL Police Spec
Engine no. 38ULH1676
The times were changing for motorcycling in 1938. The effects of the Great Depression still clung to the average American which had a rippling affect through the automotive and motorcycle industries. Harley-Davidson and Indian were the lone survivors in the United States excepting for small specialty companies like Crocker and Simplex. Life was hard for both the Wigwam and the Milwaukee company as total production could be counted in a few thousand machines, far from the golden days when Indian sold 32,000 motorcycles in 1913.
During those lean years, Harley-Davidson produced motorcycles using sidevalve engines, a configuration that was popular with the automobile manufacturers at the time plus they may have also been attempting to wean Indian riders over to the H-D brand by marketing a comparable motorcycle to the Chief and Scout. In the engineering department a new motorcycle was being developed and one that would redefine the industry. The new Model E 61 OHV model affectionately known as the Knucklehead was a fantastic achievement for the times but flawed initially and buyers kept their distance for a year following its debut. The total-loss lubricated V series Harley-Davidsons carried the company through most of the 1930's only to be replaced in 1937 with the new dry-sump lubricated U models. At first, the new U models produced exceeded the Model E but once confidence grew in the new motorcycle, the sidevalves took a back seat in the Harley lineup and were finally discontinued after 1948.
Most of the yearly changes in the Model U were in common with the popular Model E, and they shared the same new fork, frame and sheet metal. Improved over the previous year, the clutch and transmission received several upgrades. The frame was made more rugged with larger rear frame tubes. This 1938 ULH was the Special Sport Solo with an 80 cubic inch sidevalve engine and 4-speed transmission. This year only 579 ULH's were produced compared to 2300 Knuckleheads, and by 1939 the model was reduced another 33% in production.
This 1938 Harley-Davidson ULH is from the Bud Ekins collection of American motorcycles. Purchased from a police auction, this motorcycle was later used extensively in the movie industry and featured in films like Pearl Harbor, 1941, The Rocketeer and Hells Angels 69. It was last shown in The Black Dahlia and still wears the police paint scheme applied for that movie. This is a very rare Harley-Davidson with a unique history of work in the Hollywood movie scene. Enjoy it in its current state or turn it back to its former glory when it first rolled out of the factory.
These two Harley-Davidson ULs were originally purchased by Floyd Creswell from a Police Auction, who rented them out for use on camera in The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin, as well as many 1950s hotrod movies. He sold them with the rest of his collection to Bud Ekins, who rented them to Hollywood studios and production companies for such films as The Black Dahlia, Spielberg's 1941, Pear Harbor, The Rocketeer, Hells Angels 69, Hughes & Harlowe, etc. Over the years, they have been painted and repainted innumerable times for various war and police movie scenes. The last time they were painted by the studio for inclusion in The Black Dahlia.
- The title for this lot is in transit.