Original Example: 1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead

The seller of this gorgeous 1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead is off to a good start on building an addition to his shop, as the bike has already attracted $25,000 in bids. The bike is described as a highly original example that hasn’t been overly messed with, and most tweaks were made to improve reliability and rideability. Find the Panhead here on eBay with three days left and located in New Hampshire.

Panheads have a style all of their own and capture what it meant to ride a motorcycle in the 1940s. The crazy low stance and gorgeous fenders make it a classic example of looking like you’re going fast even when standing still, and it’s a shame to consider the dire straits Harley is in when they once made iconic bikes like this. The seller believes it wears original paint.

The seller notes no welds or repairs anywhere on the engine, and that his efforts to make the bike turnkey reliable consisted of multiple mechanical improvements: the engine and transmission were rebuilt, and the work also included a new wiring harness, rebuilt carburetor, new oil pressure switch and spring, and new rocker cover gaskets.

Riding a bike of this era may give some riders pause at taking something this old on a long-distance trip. However, the simplicity of a machine like this is what should give most enthusiasts the confidence to go farther. That, along with the obvious emphasis on sensible mechanical restoration that’s taken place under the seller’s ownership. How high will bidding go?

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Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    I want! I want! But I still cannot afford, unless I win the lottery or sell lots of books. A Panhead/Springer, this was the last of one era and the beginning of the next. It wasn’t really a smooth transition from the Knucklehead to the Panhead. For some reason H-D decided to incorporate hydraulic valve lifters, only they decided to put it in the upper part of the mechanism instead of the lifter itself (where it was quickly relocated). I’m actually quite surprised at the numbers of these I’ve seen over the years, compared to Knuckles. I would’ve expected to see more Knuckles but I guess they were pretty well used up. I sure wouldn’t kick this one off my driveway. Just need to wait until my trick knee is in the right mood so I can start it…

    Like 10
  2. local_sheriff

    This is a very cool vintage bike and it represents the very essence of genuine H-D design that’s alive even up to this day. I’m partial to Panheads, having owned a slightly newer and not near as original ’52 FLH myself for 15+ years. As I’m more of a car guy I don’t ride it often, but take it for a spin now and then when weather permits.

    Though these bikes are extremely primitive by modern standards, I’d actually rate them as safe bikes to ride as opposed to high speed ‘angle grinders’ – driving above 50mph is uncomfortable, above 60mph simply reckless!! Plus the lack of an electric starter makes a built-in anti-theft device… good luck starting a Panhead unless you know what you’re doing! 🤣

    Like 12
    • On and On On and On Member

      I understand your point of view. I’ve owned at least 50 motorcycles, but never a Harley. Most of my riding buddies had them and I used to tell them that someone needed a decent dependable bike (BMW or Honda mostly) to pick up parts for their bikes! Harley value is in the attitude more than the engineering. People just love the Harley mistique $25,000 buys a lot of motorcycles, and most of them are easy to start and don’t leak oil. If I did own one it would be pre-1920. Just my experience and point of view. All motorcycles are cool, I just can’t justify the prices. BTW, I don’t own a 911 or a VW van either!!

      Like 10
      • Dave

        On the other hand, my 2005 Sportster 1200 Roadster that I bought new has over 79,000 miles on it and has yet to leak a drop of oil. It starts like the Space Shuttle, cylinders firing 120 milliseconds apart, gives 60 mpg on the highway, and the only things it’s worn out are things like tires, brakes, and the drive belt at 74,000 miles.

        The Japanese showed the world the path to quality and H-D had to follow or die.
        Japanese motorcycles and cars are far from inexpensive these days.

        All outdoor activities and equipment suppliers are suffering because millenials are not following in their Baby Boomer father’s footsteps. They don’t ride motorcycles, hunt, fish, attend sporting events and concerts, or NASCAR races.

        Your results may differ. The statement above came from the Wall Street Journal.

        Like 7
      • On and On On and On Member

        You know Dave you are right. I should have said I was referring to Big Twins, older ones. If I was ever to buy a Harley it would be a newer Sportster. Great looking and handling bikes. AND I’ve seen them for sale at decent prices. They may be a motorcycling bargain if I may say so……..

        Like 3
      • Dave

        Shhh, don’t tell anyone! You can find low-mi!eage, rubber-mounted, EFI Sportsters for ridiculously low prices. With Japanese -level quality, they just might be the best bargain today.

        Like 3
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Anti-theft device. LMAO! Yes, to the untrained, a Harley could be obstinate to start. Mine weren’t much of a problem. Two primer kicks with the key off, then half choke, key on, and they usually lit. Warm, they started with little effort, although hot, they could sometimes tell you to go and have another beer first, unless you liked a lot of kicking and swearing. Of course on my 45, if you forgot to retard the spark, it could sure show you the error of your ways in a heck of a hurry.

      Like 9
  3. Billieg

    Would love to have this. I had a chopper shop from 1968 to 1974 and chopped many of these. Back then a farmer would sell you one for less than $300. I just chucked all the org. parts in the trash. Just think how rich I’d be if I had stored them in the barn………

    Like 5
    • James

      I think that’s called “hoarding” based on an earlier posting about 53-54 Vette parts… ;)

      Like 1
    • Crg

      @ billieg: You can’t fix stupid as your other post proves…

      Like 1
      • Billieg

        I’m sorry to hear that because you are stuck there forever…

        Like 1
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    That looks so much better than the one I had as a kid: IIRC it was in 4 boxes when I got it. It was like Johnny Cash’s Cadillac, one piece at a time. There were so many years represented in it, but it was titled as a 49. First and only bike I ever owned, luckily I had a roommate that knew them. It eventually became a bike but it was a job I wouldn’t do again. One thing for the unaware, that suicide clutch will get you if you don’t know what you’re doing and respect it.

    Like 1
  5. Howard A. Member

    On a snowy day in the Rocky Mountains and more on the way,( who would have thought it would snow in the mountains) I’d love to get in on this. I’m going to go with On and On here, while this was state of the art in 1948, it falls horribly short today. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it’s like to ride, or attempt to ride, a hard tail, springer front, suicide clutch, hand shift, kick start Panhead. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had dozens of motorcycles, but only one Harley. A 1985 FXRT, that I took the fairing off,( kept the hard bags and much improved the bike) making it a half arsed FXR, but it was without a doubt, the nicest bike I ever had. While I was and always will be wary of the belt drive, it never failed, but I still don’t like it. Chain ( and a spare master link) always got me home. Like O&O sez, $25g’s buys a lot of cool bikes, and maybe a sports car, but I could never justify spending this much on such a frivolous purchase.
    Today’s Harley’s are everything this isn’t. My ex-gf had a ’99 Sporty 1200 Custom, and I tell you what, that was a sharp, dependable bike. Pull the front wheel off the ground, it would. Not one issue. My FXR never let me down either, not to say, I didn’t have my moments.I’ll never forget riding with guys that had these. If it didn’t pop on the 2nd kick, “oh,oh, might be a while” and we all took turns kicking the old Panhead. Worst case scenario, someone go get the van.

    Like 9
  6. ken tilly UK Member

    Welcome back Howard, long time no hear!

    Like 1
  7. Paul Jackson Member

    Cool bike, not over restored, appropriate price for now!
    As far as long distance riding goes check out “The Chase” of Motorcycle Cannonball. This bike is too new to compete in either of these races

  8. Jenkins Leon

    I had a 1948 Pan Head Harley. The first overhead valve engines. I paid 100.00 for mine in
    in 1961, sitting in a barn covered with hay. Choke on, push pedal once, choke off,switch on, spark off, jump once and VARROOM, Off we went. Every time, Just two cranks and running. I could rest my left hand on the tank below the shifter and just speed shifting with the throttle and no clutch, and it sounded like an automatic transmission. I wish I still had it.

    Like 4
    • Marshall Jones

      You had it..!!
      One day I will buy too..

  9. Stevieg

    I would love to have something like this, but I am smart enough to know that I don’t know enough about them lol.
    My Dad, when I was young, had a 1959 Panhead. I remember riding on the gas tank while he drove (rode) it, going from bar to bar. It didn’t have suicide shift, but it was primitive & I loved it!
    Because I always liked the style but I knew I didn’t know enough about them, I bought the nicest, low mile 1 owner Heritage springer I could find. I built the engine to the point where that little 88 incher put out 108 horsepower & 120 foot pounds of torque. I put fishtail true dials on it, ape hangers, all sorts of chrome, and a backrest because ai almost lost my old school Italian bosses pregnant daughter off the back (losing her could have gotten me “disposed of” lol.
    That is the bike that was totaled by a young girl texting while driving on April 16th this year. I regret letting that bike go!
    Attached is a picture of my Dad with his Panhead, taken in 1974.

    Like 6
    • Howard A. Member

      Hey Stevieg, I’m no H-D expert, but it looks like dad was riding a ’59 FL Duo-Glide. It was a radical departure from the previous hard tail Hydra- Glide, which this bike is, ( designed by Brooks Stevens, as a side note) with a swing arm and shocks. His had 4 speed foot shift. I believe the tank shift was discontinued with the Duo-Glide. Still kick start, electric start came in 1965. Dad was no wuss. Cool trumpet exhaust too!

      Like 2
      • Howard A. Member

        Wait, the featured bike above is not a Hydra-Glide. I think they came out in ’49 with hydraulic front forks. I’m sure someone would have called me out on that, sorry.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Actually if a person wants to split hairs the Duo Glide came out in’58. And yes, the Hydra Glide made its grand entry in ‘49.

        Like 2
      • Howard A. Member

        That’s why you’re here, my friend, to split them hairs. :)
        ( 6 degrees, light snow, power went out for a spell last night,, I can’t remember a white Halloween in the Badger. Way to go Colorado)

        Like 4
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        You like the CO winters? You can always try them in the Chinook Belt. Hitched up the cargo trailer last Friday and headed down I-15 to pick up freight at UPS. Winds gusted at 100 mph. One gust hit us squarely and tipped the trailer over. People say: “Must have been a nice day; it was 60 outside.” Well, truth be known, I’d rather have the 15 with flurries that the wind brought in than having to walk at a 45-degree angle across the yard. I often wonder why the wind has to blow in from the west to bring in a weather system from the north??? Hurricanes got nothing on us…

        Like 5
      • local_sheriff

        Howard; ’57 was the last year for the rigid frame. Foot shift was first made available in ’52 ( as mine has), while the tank shift, also called jockey shift, actually was available until the late 70s(78?) but only on special order after Shovels were introduced. As you say electric starter came in ’65 called Electra Glide, which was also the last year for Panheads

        Like 3
  10. Stevieg

    My springer, picture taken about 10 months before the accident.

    Like 2
  11. Stevieg

    My favorite picture of the springer, taken 8 months before the accident.

    Like 4
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Nice Springer Stevieg, I think there is a Springer in there? You know Howard, I enjoy the “Stevie and Howard” show. We see so many rigs come through here and so many times I wonder what the back story is on them. Nice to get ‘The rest of the story”. Hey Howard, I bet you turned the driving gig down because of the auto trans! Happy Halloween!

      Like 2
      • Howard A. Member

        Thanks Mike, sure ain’t biking weather in the Rockies today, but it helps talking about them. Hopefully Scotty can enlighten us with some neat vintage snow machines soon. I think I miss snowmobiling the most. And I’m not paying $50/hour to ride one here( 4 hour minimum)
        Yeah, a semi truck with an automatic, that IS scary. I mean, why bother? Automatics do bring in more drivers that probably wouldn’t otherwise, but it’s like a bike with an automatic. Just goes agin everything we hold dear.

        Like 1
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Jeez Howard, a half a rock for one hour? I live right off the trail here and thought about buying a sled. Just never enough snow here for the last 10 years. The trail is open about 5 days a season. No BS. Sleds are cheap here because of that. Hey! Maybe I could be a sled flipper and send some to the Rockies. Ah, not the flipper kind of guy. Strange, starting to snow now. I think the only way to get new drivers is with an auto. My right hand would be all over the place. Would have been nice in my younger days. LOL! Take care, Mike.

        Like 1
  12. Stevieg

    Howard, yes it was a duo glide. I believe the springer & hard tail were long gone by the time it came out, but the Panhead wasn’t!
    I don’t remember the exhaust being like that as a kid, but it probably was. I was 4 when he bought it & who at that age is all that detail orientated lol?
    To my eyes as an adult, it sure looks sort of Dr, Seuss-ish lol, but considering the times & what sort of extra-curricular activities my Dad was into, not all that surprising lol.
    That was Dad’s first bike. He learned to ride on it. He bought it for himself about a week after getting out of prison, which s where he was when I was born. Colorful guy! Lived a hard life, died a very “loud” death. Rode to the end (not literally, he was driving a car I owned when he departed). Attached is a picture of the bike he left @ my house when he borrowed my car. I made some changes to it. It is a 1993 Heritage with the evolution engine.

    Like 2
  13. Stevieg

    I had already started stripping the excess garbage off the bike when I took the previous picture. Here is the end result.

    Like 2
  14. Stevieg

    Another shot of it after completion.

    Like 2
  15. Stevieg

    A close up of the paint job. I found this guy when I was in Phoenix, a couple years ago, by accident. He did a phenomenal job. Bike gets compliments everywhere I go with it, mostly because of this guys skills.

    Like 1
  16. Stevieg

    My Mom on the bike, mostly because they were long divorced & the thought of his ashes spinning amused me lol.

    Like 2
    • Howard A. Member

      That’s pretty cool, well, not the old man part, but it was pretty typical of the group back then. He looks a bit familiar. I noticed the “414” area code in your mom’s pic, and I see it’s Milwaukee “461” exchange. Apologies to the other folks here, turning into the “Stevie and Howard” show, but I grew up on 73rd and Capitol. Went to John Marshall HS, graduated in ’72. The highlight(?) of the AMF years. A lot of poor stuff went out the door then, who would’ve thought they are in such high demand today. I was a kid in your dad’s heyday too, and never gave much thought to Harleys. They were all around. My 1st bike was a 1965 Honda step thru 50 that was bought in ’66, and it was vandalized by possibly your old man. My dad said a bunch of bikers trashed it, he got it cheap. Having a Honda in Beer City took some nerve, and HD riders were and still are, very loyal to the brand. I had mostly Asian bikes, until the RT, and like I say, remains my favorite bike. There’s just a glut of HD’s today, and a really nice low mile 20 year old Electra Glide, can be had all day for $5g’s, Sporty’s for $3 around here. If I was to buy another cruiser, it would be a HD for sure. Thx for the pics.

      Like 4
  17. Stevieg

    Howard, my Dad & uncles grew up on 84th & Burleigh, I was raised in Wauwatosa by my maternal grandparents. Most of the pictures were at the last Harley dealership I worked at, Milwaukee Harley Davidson. I recently left there for another dealership which closed right after they hired me lol.
    I miss Milwaukee Harley, my immediate supervisor was awesome & I still consider him a close friend. His boss was a douche lol. The guy is general manager of 2 Harley dealerships & rides a BMW lol.
    My Dad & uncles all went to Marshall high school too, the youngest graduated in 1970 but died in 1972. His name was Ken Glodoski. He died on Swan Blvd, just south of North ave. He was being chased by the ‘Tosa cops and turned the lights off on his bike (yup, died riding a Harley) & ended up hitting a railroad trestle.
    I’m still in the area, living (until my up-coming next grand adventure real soon) on 56th & North ave.
    Do you ever make it back to beer town?

    • Howard A. Member

      Hmm, wrote a big response, and it didn’t take, a BF’s exclusive still, it’s what irritates me most about this site, even as a member, that happened a lot. The condensed version, I do remember Kenny Glodoski, not that he got killed. I still have family in Wis. but probably run the clock out in the UP.

      Like 1
  18. Stevieg

    Howard, how well did you know Kenny? If you knew him fairly well, I would like to ask you a few things about him not in public lol. If not, no problem.
    Either way, if you happen to make it back here before I depart for Arizona, I would love to meet you & break some bread or grab a beer.

    • Howard A. Member

      I’d like to talk more “off the record”, but I don’t publish my email. Let me work on that. I mostly remember the name, he was a few years ahead of me. My older brother might remember him. A bunch of guys had high performance cars then, I think he was one of them, a Nova maybe? Milwaukee Harley was on Fond du lac Ave. I think. It’s where all the rough crowd hung out. They sold a lot of cop bikes. Lot’s to talk about, remember the riots? Your dad was probably in on that. Let me see about the email.
      https://outlet.historicimages.com/products/mjb57916

  19. Stevieg

    Hey Howard, I already gave up my last name lol. My email is “glod9170@aol.com”.

  20. Stevieg

    Milwaukee Harley has relocated to a newer building which they built in 1996. They are right by Interstate 45 & Silver Spring. Great customer base. Menomonee Falls & Sussex clientele along with the inner city crowd. A lot of customers from the south side too, who aren’t real fond of the competition on that side of town, House of Harley or the former Hal’s Harley (which became IronTown Harley…that is where I went to earlier this year. They since closed lol).
    Milwaukee Harley was cool. Harley corporate research & development was right up the road so we got to see things before anyone else. Their employees were our customers. The engine plant was also right up the road, opposite direction, & they were our customers too. Plus all of the non corporate customers, who were almost always fun people. Corporate customers were kind of a pain. They always seemed to feel entitled. I would feed it though by frequently reminding them that we can’t sell or fix them if they don’t make them. I also would tell them that we fix their mistakes lol. I worked in the service department.

  21. Stevieg

    My new bike

    Like 2
  22. Marshall Jones

    My dream to have a ride for a whole day.

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