All Original: 1948 Harley-Davidson EL Panhead

This 1948 Harley-Davidson EL has recently been liberated from a private collection, and the owner has returned it to a state where it runs and drives. The buyer will need to make a few choices. It appears that getting it to a point where it is roadworthy won’t be difficult, and then the opportunity will be there to hit the road for some “boots in the breeze” touring. Alternatively, it is a prime candidate for a restoration project. Located in Crown Point, Indiana, you will find the Harley listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $38,100, and with the reserve now met, a new home is only a few days away for this classic motorcycle.

It seems that the appearance of certain classics here at Barn Finds can be quite cyclical. Although, I guess when you’re dealing with a Harley-Davidson, it is probably more “motor-cyclical.” I know, it’s a pretty awful joke, but it’s also about the best I can do! This is the second classic Harley that we’ve seen in recent days, and it does appear to be a gem. It isn’t perfect, but that is to be expected from any unrestored classic that has 73-years under its belt. The paint has a few marks and dings, and I can spot a small dent in the tank. However, the overall impression is quite positive. There’s no doubt that the motorcycle would respond well to a cosmetic restoration. It is equally true that it would command the same amount of attention if left largely untouched. The chrome and alloy components are surprisingly good for their age, and the owner says that there are no reproduction parts. That means that the ultra-cool fishtail muffler is the genuine article, as are the vintage saddlebags.

The 1948 model year marked the introduction of the Panhead V-Twin to the range. It replaced the Knucklehead, a motor that was produced between 1936 and 1947. Part of the design brief of the new engine was to improve long-term reliability, and while the Panhead shared its capacities with its predecessor, wholesale changes to areas like the lubrication system had a positive impact. The EL’s Panhead has a capacity of 61cc, although the company also introduced a larger 74ci version in the “F” Series. Interestingly, the smaller engine is highly coveted by collectors, proving that bigger isn’t necessarily better. This motor is bolted to a 4-speed transmission, while the drive is by the traditional chain. The owner has revived the EL, and it now runs and drives. He suggests that returning it to a roadworthy state would not be difficult. It seems that a new battery and a spot of tinkering might be all that’s required before the new owner is ready to hit the road to enjoy the classic motorcycling experience.

I admit that when I was younger, I didn’t give any Harley-Davidson more than a passing glance. That was an attitude borne out of my own ignorance because I failed to understand what owning a Harley was all about. It isn’t just about riding a motorcycle. It is an entire lifestyle. It isn’t about the sort of experience that you get from modern high-performance machines, but it is about relaxed touring and of a level of kinship between enthusiasts that you don’t find with other makes. Harley owners always seem to be willing to help and support their brethren in times of trouble, which is an attitude that has disappeared in many aspects of daily life. If you want to buy into that lifestyle, maybe this 1948 Harley EL deserves more than a mere passing glance.


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  1. Paul Jackson Member

    If the paint is original then detail and ride. Restored it has plenty of company, original it’s unique

  2. chrlsful Member

    Fav Harley motor
    dresser. (chrome upa older springer for it, rake. Put a belt on.)

    Fav model to own/drive:
    ’69 XLCH

  3. david r

    It’s beautiful but how in the world do you drive a motorcycle with a foot clutch and hand shifter, in traffic? Must take some real skill.

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