1946 Harley-Davidson  EL 'Knucklehead' Engine no. 46EL3914
Lot 313
1946 Harley-Davidson EL 'Knucklehead'
Engine no. 46EL3914
Sold for US$ 32,200 inc. premium
Lot Details
1946 Harley-Davidson EL 'Knucklehead'
Engine no. 46EL3914
The EL 'Knucklehead' is recognized today as an utterly iconic American motorcycle, which set a styling standard so high, it is imitated to the present day. The EL was a completely new motorcycle in 1936, from the frame to the engine, gearbox, and overall styling. It was the first Harley with a duplex-tube frame, and it was their first OHV V-Twin street bike. The EL also used Harley's first recirculating oil system, and a 4 speed gearbox with a robust clutch. All this uncharacteristic innovation from conservative H-D was styled as a compact and streamlined package. With teardrop fuel tanks, a dash-mounted speedometer, and attractive fenders, the complete effect is of a totally modern motorcycle, and one with huge appeal.

Ten years after it was introduced, by 1946 the radical new OHV Harley had evolved into a dependable and well-sorted machine. The Knucklehead has rightly become one of the most sought-after of all Harley Davidson models, and this machine is from a low-production immediate postwar batch of the EL. Only 2098 Knuckleheads were built in '46, as the motorcycle market was flooded with inexpensive ex-military machines, and sales of new motorcycles were still slow. A shortage of chromium in the immediate postwar era can be seen on this Knucklehead, which is accurately restored with painted wheel rims and general use of paint in place of brightwork, which returned to H-D with their 1947 models.

This simply stunning, fully restored 1946 Knucklehead of course possesses the graceful lines normally associated with this iconic motorcycle design, plus a rare all-black finish; no matter that the lack of chrome in the immediate postwar period dictated the use of paint instead of chrome, the effect of all that black paint on the streamlined lines of the EL give this motorcycle an air of menacing elegance.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this motorcycle is titled under its engine number.
Auction information

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