Genuine Greenie


Of the many highlights to be included in Mecum’s Las Vegas sale, held over January 21-26, 2020 and set to feature 1750 motorcycles, ‘Greenie’ is perhaps one of the real stand-outs.

This Hollywood Green Harley-Davidson is perhaps the most discussed Harley-Davidson ‘Knucklehead’ of all time, as it has changed Knucklehead history not once, but twice.

First, it turned heads when it sold for more than any previous Knucklehead, as many thought it was an incorrect or customised machine.

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In 1971, Harley-Davidson dealer Wayne ‘Pappy’ Pierce allowed this machine to be traded in on a new Sportster at his dealership in DeKalb, Illinois.

At the time, the going price of a used Knucklehead was far less than a new XL Sportster, which was a lopsided trade-in for a canny old dealer. What did Pappy know that nobody else remembered about prewar Harley-Davidsons?

When Pappy Pierce died, it was sold at auction to the current owner for a record-setting price.

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The current owner of Greenie then searched to find the original invoices and documentation that proved this 1940 EL is in fact an original machine, ordered from the factory with green paint and nickel plating instead of chrome, as well as many extra details.

By proving it was an original machine, the owner and this bike changed the conversation around what is a ‘correct’ restoration of a prewar Harley-Davidson.

It has now been proven that Harley-Davidson offered custom motorcycles from 1926 onwards, using DuPont paints as colour options. Through further research, the owner has proven that such customisation was more norm, than the exception.

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Much of this information was simply forgotten and never written down in factory histories, but a close examination of factory invoices and records reveals the true story.

This 1940 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead is a factory original motorcycle on which an amazing amount of time has been lavished in documenting its history.

In the process, the story of the Harley-Davidson factory and the rules for concours judging of prewar Harley-Davidsons have changed, making this machine a landmark of motorcycle scholarship.

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As Greenie’s current owner has said: “This bike has changed Knucklehead history twice—and I expect it will make history once again.”

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