Are You Being Served? 1942 Harley Servi-Car

1940s Harley Davidson Servi-Car

Neither a car nor a traditional motorcycle, the Servi-car was originally created by Harley-Davidson in 1932 for the odd purpose of being towed behind repaired cars being delivered from service stations back to customers’ houses so that the delivery driver could get back to the station afterwards. Used also by police departments and delivery services, this practical vehicle was produced until 1973! We don’t know a lot about this one, located in Bozeman, Montana and offered here on craigslist, but Barn Finds reader Herb gave us some more information:

Harley Davidson Servi-Car

Herb – This is my take on it, as a forty plus year Harley rider.  It is mostly original, although I think it has a later paint job.  The rear bumper looks to be some kind of sectioned early fifties or late forties Chevy bumper, cut in half and welded back together.  The original canvas winter fairing is quite rare. The sheet metal box looks in good shape, it has the correct springer front end.  The tank emblems are correct for the 1940-1947 period. The engine is the 750 CC or 45 cubic inch flathead engine found in all of these Servi-cars…this was the same engine used in the WLA model US Army WWII motorcycles. The main difference is that these were three speed transmissions with a reverse gear. They were popular primarily as meter maid vehicles in the fifties and sixties. It is hard to find one in anything approximately original condition. I once owned one that had been chopped, with extended springer front end, and wide rear tires. The engine though could only go about fifty miles an hour top speed, and most were geared for in-town putting.

Thanks, Herb, for all that great information!

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Comments

  1. guggie

    The cities of Albany , and Gloversville New York both used these for meter maid duty . When the stopped using them they almost gave them away , no self respecting biker would want to be caught on a meter maid trike !!

    • Nick I

      Schenectady NY Police Dept. had one too,.Barney Waldron was the policeman
      who drove it.

    • Peter

      guggie,

      Just curious, as will be moving to the Albany area. About how many years ago were those Meter Maid Serv-i-Car H-D’s sold off?

      Any chance you know where they went?

      Thanks!

    • Chuck T

      You may send me one…I am not self respecting biker but I a cheapie.

      Like 1
  2. Jose

    Very interesting little bike but nowhere did it say what was the selling price, bidding price, reserve/no reserve, and/or who to contact. Also, where is the thing located?

  3. MH

    Very cool in original condition. I like it. Worth about 15K as is or more. I wish we could see more bikes on here.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I agree MH. Anything with a motor excites me! Ride on!

  4. redwagon

    jose, call tracey at 406.578.2000. near bozeman, mt

  5. JW454

    I can’t figure out the apparatus on the front end by the head lamp. If you know please post it here.
    Otherwise, my favorite piece is the bicycle peddle on the kick starter, Ha! That’s a hoot! Whatever works I guess.

    • Ranger Herb

      That is a tow bar, I don’t know if it is original, having never actually seen an original Harley built piece, but that is what it is. Mounted to the bottom rocker on the springer front end. I saw that after I sent the ad into Barnfinds. I think it is probably original as well.

  6. Terry J

    I’ve had 2 of these in years long gone. Was sitting in the lawn by my last one in 1971 Milton Freewater Oregon, and a bad Chopper roared by, turned around and stopped to look. Big rough looking guy wearing colors admired it and told me this story: I was on a long road trip up the Eastern Seaboard with 15 other choppers when my tranny went out. Limped into a small town and asked around. Introduced to an old guy who had lots of Harley parts, but only 1 transmission. Bolted it in, and in a hurry I fired up the old 74, dropped it into first gear and dumped the clutch. The thing shot BACKWARDS and crashed into the back wall, almost breaking both my legs. Didn’t know it was a TRIKE tranny, and where first gear should be, was reverse. After that, any time we came to a stop, everybody would filter around me, because once in awhile, I’d forget…..

    Like 1
    • herb

      Terry J. That would have been a sidecar tranny, they also came with a three speed and reverse option. If it was for the old knuckle or panheads, it was definitely a sidecar transmission. The forty five had a rear chain on the right side, like the sportster, the big inch bikes’ had a final drive on the left side. Here is a photo of the Harley WLA WWII era motorcycle that I mentioned in the article.

  7. RockabillyJay

    Jw454- That contraption on the front is the tow bar. It folds down and attaches to a car bumper so you can tow the bike as mentioned.

    These are neat..but slooooooooow. Love the barn find condition!

    • JW454

      R.J.

      Thanks for the clarification on the tow bar. That one had me stumped.

  8. jim s

    used by the police in my town when i was growing up but sat unused most of the time do to weather and starting issues. rare to find one with the tow bar still attached. great find

  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Suicide shift, sweet, not sure if the trike would have that same nickname. I love the graphic paint, not sure if that was stock, I doubt it. I do remember seeing some in Janesville Wisconsin as ice cream rigs in the early 70’s. Speaking of ice cream, I am outta here!!!!!

  10. Healeydays

    Just got a note from the seller. They are asking $12,800

    A restored one goes for not much more in my area

  11. geomechs geomechs Member

    One of the biggest regrets I have is selling my Servicar. I bought it from the Honda dealer back in ’69 for $50.00. It was a remnant of when the bike shop sold H-D and they didn’t bother to take it with them when they pulled out. I got it home, aired up the tires, hooked up a battery and put in some gas. First kick it sputtered; second one it started. A complete tune up and servicing and I was riding it. Enjoyed the heck out of it (and yes, it only topped out at 50) but then, it was time for college. I didn’t have quite enough for the deposit on my tuition and my loan was taking forever. I gave in and sold it for $250.00. My loan came in a week later. The guy I sold it to was working Off-shore drilling rigs and never got around to doing anything with it, leaving it under the eaves of his garage for the rain and snow to run down on it rusting the dash completely out. He would never sell it for years then finally gave in and sold it to the new H-D dealer who completely restored it. At least it finally went to a good home.

    I might add that mine was a ’42 but it had the full disc rear rims instead of the wires. I don’t know if that was an option or someone retro-fitted them later in life.

  12. bigbadwolf1966

    What a sweet project. I hope it gets restored, not rodded as so many have. originals are so hard to find now

  13. hhaleblian

    Hinsdale IL fuzz Nazi parking cop George had one in black in full Hinsdale regalia in the mid 60’s. We tagged him as “George on his ice cream truck”. George lacked a sense of humor. But common decency dictates any man especially in uniform would prefer not to be called a meter maid.

  14. Pat

    Explaining what the bike is, is nice. But I want to hear the history on This Bike Please!

  15. DT

    My friend had one of these.1942 also. he said it was military surplus.his was a chopper.Hard tail no suspension in the back. not much suspension on the front.suicide shift,and still had reverse.He called it a 45…45 cubic inch,flathead. 3 speed.Believe me he was a real biker

  16. Rodan63

    The shifter on the tank is called a jockey shift.
    Clutch is operated with your left foot not left hand.
    When stopped at a red light if your foot slipped off the clutch pedal,well it’d be suicide.
    Hence jockey shift,suicide clutch.
    All these WL,WLA,WLC 45 flatheads were like this setup.
    Took some coordination to operate.At least with three wheels you did not have to put a foot on the ground when you came to a stop.

  17. slim shaddy shad tree auto body

    AS for going slow you just need to change the crank sprocket——- largest one made is 34 tooth with that size should do the speed limit but 45″ don’t like to run fast for long do to there oiling.

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