1934 Harley-Davidson 74ci VLD 'Big Twin'
Engine no. 34VLD5226
The 'flat head' (sidevalve) Harley-Davidson VL 'Big Twin' was announced in July 1929 as a replacement for the inlet-over-exhaust 'pocket valve' twins that had been in production since 1911. The twin headlamps, round toolbox and Klaxon horn were carried over from its immediate predecessor, but nearly all of the rest of the bike was new. Harley's 1930 brochure described the new 74ci machine as 'standing head and shoulders above all comers, with such startling new features as a 20% more powerful motor with Ricardo removable heads, interchangeable wheels, bigger tires, drop-centre rims, lower riding position, greater road clearance, automatic increase of generator output, drop forged forks, 100% stronger frame, theft proof lock, dual front drive chain, improved clutch, and many other features making the 1930 Big Twin the greatest motorcycle value ever offered.'
Despite its maker's evident enthusiasm, the model V was far from an instant success. More massively built and heavier than its predecessor, the V lacked top-end power to such an extent that the first examples were recalled for an extensive engine redesign. A larger crankcase accommodating heavier flywheels did the trick and, its problems solved, the 74ci 'flat head' went on to win the hearts of Harley enthusiasts everywhere.
This example's 'VLD' nomenclature indicates a generator-equipped model fitted with high-compression pistons. An older restoration by an enthusiastic former owner, the machine comes complete with Corbin speedometer, rider's handbook, parking lights, tool box, horn, front and rear wheel stands, luggage carrier and black leather panniers embossed with reptile pattern.
The current vendor purchased the Excelsior at Bonhams' sale of the Richard C Paine Jr Collection at Owls Head, Maine in September 2008 (Lot 814). Since acquisition the machine has formed part of the Fabergé Museum collection in Germany and will require re-commissioning and safety checks prior to returning to the road following a period of static display.
- Please note that this motorcycle is titled under its engine number and its title is in transit.
Please note, that this motorcycle is subject to California Highway Patrol VIN inspection--a simple procedural matter on which the condition or history of the motorcycle has no bearing. Following the auction, this lot will be transported to San Francisco, at no cost to the buyer, and will be available for collection from San Francisco on January 23rd.