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Former Police Bike: 1950 Harley Davidson Panhead

This 1950 Harley-Davidson Panhead is an EL model and a former member of the Chillicothe Police Department in Ohio, where it has been a member of the police fleet since new. The best part about this bike is that it has been completely rebuilt but the outside patina hasn’t been touched, so you don’t lose any of the cool, in-period vibe of a genuine police bike while still having the reliability of a turnkey motorcycle. Find it here on eBay where bidding is over $22K and the reserve remains unmet.

To me, it’s always somewhat ironic when the police use a bike that outlaws and speed limit deviants would typically choose as their weapon of choice. Of course, the police are smart enough to know that the best way to shut down a rampant speeder is to come equipped with a vehicle that can go toe-to-toe. This example is delightfully authentic, right down to the original police-issue equipment, such as the special flashlight and its novel mounting solution seen here.

The seller contends the bike will start with one kick, it’s that tight mechanically. It does need new tires, but presumably, the seller has addressed the other major mechanical systems. As an added bonus, most municipality-owned vehicles are well maintained, with the caveat being that police department vehicles see more regular use than, say, a brush fire fighting vehicle stationed with an Ohio fire department. Just finding such a bike that has all of its police equipment intact is a feat, much less one that runs and drives.

The seller notes that the bike retains its foot siren, red lenses, spot lamps, and aforementioned flashlight holder. When you’re paying a premium for real-deal policing equipment, finding a bike with all of those bits attached is a must; good luck hunting them down otherwise. Of course, what I don’t know and what isn’t mentioned is whether the bike is missing any of its original policing equipment, but as it currently sits, the big items are accounted for. Despite the active bidding, the seller is looking for more – do you think bidders need to reach a bit higher to buy this police department Panhead?


  1. chrlsful

    yep, I do. 3 – 4x that (even tho/esp b cuz) of the condition its in.
    Thanks Jeff, off to the site for a fuller view now

    Like 0
  2. Chuckster

    If this thing was rebuilt it must have been a long time ago , to much grime on that motor to be recent

    Like 7
  3. Howard A Member

    Cool old scoot. This bike has been around. A dealer in Cal. had it advertised for $34,500 a while back, so someone is taking a bath. Always amazes me someone can lose what I make in a year on SS.

    Like 5
  4. Marco

    Completely rebuilt? Would like to see the documentation on that.

    Like 4
  5. John S

    Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about! I.M.O. nothing beats a Pan-Head for cool looks… and that sound! The new bikes don’t sound as good as the ol’ Knucks, Pans and Shovels! My ’59 was set up 2″ straight pipes and highway gears. I’m an old guy, so I have a hard time wrapping my head around what these beauties cost these days… but anything is worth what the next guy will pay, so the market speaketh! Mine had the rocker clutch and I mounted the shifter on the trans. Fun to ride and a built in theft deterrent. Oh and before you say it, I’ll explain that a “suicide clutch” is a spring returned clutch pedal that engages when ever the foot releases pressure on it. A “rocker clutch”, such as the one pictured above, has an adjustment on a friction plate that allows the clutch to remain dis-engaged when the foot is taken off the pedals. The term “suicide shifter” is erroneous and refers to a “Ratchet Shifter”. Kids these days… young whipper-snappers! (Ha-ha!)

    Like 5
  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    Need to roll this one right up and park it in my driveway. Of course, it’s beyond my budget but then, most of this good stuff is, unless the lottery pays off. An EL on the police force? I always thought the police rode 74-inch FLs. Shows how much I know. I would have a good time on this one just the same. I would even be tempted to use the police equipment to scare a friend but, saying that, the way my luck runs, the first one I would attempt to trick would be the local law enforcement. Starting around 1950 the Panheads got a major improvement when the engineers decided to put the hydraulic valve mechanism (lifter) down in the bottom where it belongs. The Pans were about as indesctructible as they could get. I saw lots of them go the rounds in all kinds of conditions and they always came back for more. One thing I didn’t like was the generator which was chronically troublesome for many years until someone decided to use a remarkable new invention called a voltage regulator instead of the single cutout relay and. My 45 had that old Third Brush/Cutout setup on it and it gave more trouble than all the other quirks combined. I say Lucas didn’t have a monopoly on “Prince of Darkness.”

    Like 6
  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Man, reserve not met.
    Ended:Dec 16, 2019 , 4:08PM
    Current bid:US $25,150.00
    Reserve not met
    [ 12 bids ]

    Like 1
  8. Stevieg

    Makes me foam at the mouth like a St. Bernard. Beautiful!

    Like 2

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