Built for Otis Chandler and exhibited at 'The Art of the Motorcycle' Exhibition,1963 Harley-Davidson 'Captain America' Recreation 1993
Lot 107
Built for Otis Chandler and exhibited at 'The Art of the Motorcycle' Exhibition,1963 Harley Davidson 'Captain America' Recreation 1993 Engine no. 62FL6966
Sold for US$ 52,650 inc. premium
Lot Details
Built for Otis Chandler and exhibited at 'The Art of the Motorcycle' Exhibition
1963 Harley Davidson 'Captain America' Recreation 1993
Engine no. 62FL6966
As iconic motorcycles go, "Captain America" checks all the boxes. In fact, Peter Fonda's chrome-plated ride in the 1969 flick Easy Rider might just be the best known two-wheeler ever. It's now being seen by a second generation of movie watchers. Made for a paltry $340,000, named by Time magazine as one of the 10 most important films of the 1960s, Easy Rider has to date grossed more than $50 million.

As the movie's star vehicle, Captain America set styling trends. Said Cycle World magazine about the bike's influence, "Easy Rider validated the chopper as countercultural icon, hell on wheels for the hippie generation. Captain America provided a calling card for young, alienated, rebellious gearheads, and almost overnight everything from Schwinns to Honda CB750s sprouted improbably drawn out front ends and sacrilegious star-spangled paint schemes."

Too bad the Captain never got to read his reviews. Even before the movie's premier, gun-toting thieves broke into the bike's storage area and made off with it. Within hours, no doubt, what was soon to be one of the world's most famous motorcycles had been hacked into its various components and scattered about the chopper underground, sold off cheap.

Gone but not forgotten, Captain America has inspired many replicas over the years. Few, though, approach the almost archeological attention to detail displayed on this motorcycle. Hundreds of hours of videotape were played and replayed, movie posters pored over, studio 8 x 10s examined. Forensics-level research led to minute details being just right, like the correct-year seat studs sourced from a particular model of Chevrolet. Credit for that kind of bleary-eyed diligence goes to the man who commissioned the project, the late Otis Chandler, media magnate and prolific car-and-motorcycle collector. Numbering more than 130 machines, the thrust of Chandler's collection was important American motorcycles, and while most moto-connoisseurs would never consider acquiring a chopper, Chandler realized the historical importance on non-stock customs, especially Captain America and its partner on the silver screen, Dennis Hopper's "Billy Bike."

Chandler's recreation gave Captain America a strong second act when he loaned the bike to the Guggenheim Museum for its landmark "The Art of the Motorcycle" exhibition, which in the summer of 1998 opened in New York City to rave reviews and record-setting attendance figures. The chopper quickly became one of the show's featured motorcycles and was portrayed in press materials, posters, calendars and other souvenirs. It traveled with the exhibit for the next four years, going to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in northern Spain and the Guggenheim Las Vegas. The Captain America replica and Chandler's Billy Bike clone were obtained by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation after the show's opening, and are now being offered to benefit the Foundation.

If, indeed, the original Captain America is one of the world's most famous motorcycles, then here is its most famous recreation.

Without reserve

Footnotes

  • Because the Guggenheim does not collect motorcycles as part of its mission or collection, it has determined to offer this motorcycle for sale, with the proceeds used to benefit the Foundation.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, the title for this Lot is in transit. Additionally please note that this vehicle is titled as a 1962.
Activities
Lot symbols
Contacts
  1. David Swig
    Auction Administration - Motorcycles
    Bonhams
    Work
    220 San Bruno Avenue
    San Francisco, 94103
    United States
    Work +1 415 503 3285
    FaxFax: +1 415 391 4040
  2. Eric Minoff
    Auction Administration - Motorcycles
    Bonhams
    Work
    580 Madison Avenue
    New York, 10022
    United States
    Work +1 917 206 1630
    FaxFax: +1 917 206 1669
  3. Mark Osborne
    Specialist - Motorcycles
    Bonhams
    Work
    220 San Bruno Avenue
    San Francisco, 94103
    United States
    Work +1 415 503 3353
    FaxFax: +1 415 503 3300
  4. Nick Smith
    Specialist - Motorcycles
    Bonhams
    Work
    7601 W. Sunset Boulevard
    Los Angeles, 90046
    United States
    Work +1 323 436 5470
    FaxFax: +1 323 850 5843