Final Year Knucklehead: 1947 Harley-Davidson Model F

If I were a betting man, I would be willing to wager that the person who eventually buys this 1947 Harley-Davidson Model F will do their utmost to preserve it as an original survivor. It is easy to see why because it has remained in impressive condition for its age, and returning it to a roadworthy state does not appear to be a complex undertaking. Located in Crown Point, Indiana, you will find the Harley listed for sale here on eBay. If you ever had any doubts about the popularity of classic Harleys, you only need to consider the bidding history on this one. There have already been 50 bids submitted, pushing the price along to $40,600. The reserve is now off, so a new home is on the horizon for this beauty.

The owner points out that apart from the muffler and saddlebags, this Harley remains 100% original. The Model F appeared in 1941, but the onset of World War II curtailed its production. The company poured most of its resources into the war effort, supplying engines and complete motorcycles in various guises to the American military forces. Civilian production ramped back up in 1945, and the model remained in production until 1947. If this one is as original as the owner indicates, its condition is pretty impressive. The red paint it wears has no significant blemishes or issues, and it holds a good shine for its age. The same is true of the frame and other painted surfaces, but some of the chrome and plated pieces have begun to deteriorate. However, none of them will require attention if the buyer intends to preserve the Harley’s survivor status. The original saddle is also looking tired, but I believe that the leather could be revived using a high-quality conditioner. There’s no doubt that this is a machine that would look pretty stunning if restored, but its condition is so impressive for its age that I believe that it deserves to be retained as an original survivor.

The production life of the Knucklehead V-Twin was short, but it is a motor that has become legendary. Introduced in 1936, it remained in production until 1947. The Panhead replaced it, but the Knucklehead has proven to be a great survivor. Initially introduced with a capacity of 61ci, it increased to 74ci in 1941. The motor on this machine is original and should be capable of producing 53hp. It is bolted to a 4-speed transmission, and thanks to the prodigious torque that these engines produce for their size, a Harley is not a machine that the rider needs to “row” through the gears. The owner says that the machine runs and drives, and it won’t take much to return it to a roadworthy state. It appears that a new battery and some tinkering should see the buyer ready to hit the road for a slice of adventure.

If considered purely from a dollar-per-pound perspective, classic Harley-Davidsons like this 1947 Model F are some of the most valuable machines to ply our roads today. They are highly-coveted, and as is so graphically demonstrated with this one, they can achieve some mind-blowing values. This one is a real beauty, and it’s easy to see why the bidding has been so intense. They have continued to increase in value with each passing year, and that trend shows no sign of changing. Are you tempted to buy into the Harley lifestyle, and would you do it by bidding on this classic? If you do, I could hardly blame you.



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  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    The has the potential to be a beauty! Back about 1968 I bought a 49 basket case that included a knucklehead of unknown year. I called in ever favor owed and eventually got it rebuilt and chopped, it was a thing of beauty but it turned out like Johnny Cash’s Cadillac, pretty much parts from a wide range of years and also makes as it even included a couple of Indian parts and took a lot of talented people to make it happen. I’d ridden a few bikes before but this was the first with a suicide clutch on it and darn near killed myself before I got that figured out. I had to be careful trying to start it, it kicked like a mule if you weren’t careful. I wouldn’t mind redoing this one but I’m too old and the bones are too brittle to risk it.

    Like 8
  2. Dave

    The bit about torque reducing the necessity to shift gears is a fallacy. When the engine starts pulsing the handlebars you need to downshift. Lugging any engine will destroy it in short order. My Harley has a tach and while it will pull below 2000 rpm the handlebar feedback encourages you to select a lower gear.

  3. Dave Mazz

    The motor isn’t “bolted to a 4-speed transmission.” In this bike (and in decades of Harley Big Twins,) the engines and transmissions are separate components each being bolted to the frame. Power is sent to the tranny via a heavy duty “double” chain.

  4. charlie Member

    Perhaps some one can enlighten me: In 1964 I bought, for $150, a Harley Davidson, single seat, hard tail, magneto, small battery for lights, but no electric start, and, as I remember it, one cylinder engine. 4 speeds. Would do 55 mph, but in the days before helmets, that was too much, mostly used around town at 25 mph, could not afford a car. Leaked fluids. Sold it for $150 in 1965 when I could afford a car. What was it? I do not find anything on the net that meets this description. It looked a lot like those made for the Army in WWII. Do I remember wrong, and did it have 2 cylinders? It was black, one big headlight, spring forks on the front with a lot of travel. And, no, I never took a picture of it.

    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      If it was a single cylinder it might have been a 45 from what I remember. More a dirt bike than a street bike. Cousins had one when I was a kid and rode it all around the farm. Surprisingly nimble but definitely no speed demon. Had an uncle big into Harleys, and they dwarfed this one by a long shot.

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