Harley Powered: Custom Bonneville Racer

It isn’t clear when this hand-built special was constructed to run at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, but the fact is that while it eventually did find its way there at some point, it never managed to turn a wheel in anger. The car merely sat there on display, while everyone else had all the fun. It is a car that is now looking for a new home, so if you are on the hunt for something truly unique, then it could well be the vehicle for you. Located in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, you will find the Racer listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $15,000 for this beauty.

The listing for the Racer is a bit short on detail, but judging by the vehicle’s dimensions, I believe that it has been built on a custom frame. The panels also appear to be custom and are as smooth and sleek as you would expect from a car that is designed to travel fast in a straight line. The panels and paint all look really good, and it doesn’t appear as though there is any cosmetic work to be performed on this beauty.

There really isn’t a lot to say about the interior of this little classic, because it is a minimalist experience designed to be as light as is humanly possible. What is there is definitely clean and tidy, with controls and instruments also being reduced to the bare essentials. The owner floats the idea of updating the racer for road use, but I suspect that this might require making more than a few changes to the vehicle. This would include all of the usual legal requirements for lights and other compulsory safety equipment that would not normally find its way onto a Bonneville racer. It might also include a few creature comforts such as improved seat padding if the car was to be bearable on the road.

Powering the Racer is what the owner refers to as a 1,000cc Harley Davidson engine, but once again, details are pretty light. I’m not ashamed to admit that Harley engines are not my strong point, but I think that this is a “Panhead” engine. I’m very happy to be corrected on that if I’m wrong, so let me know. This sends the power to the rear wheels via a 4-speed Harley transmission. The owner says that both the engine and transmission have been freshly rebuilt, and both are now perfect. The car also rolls on a set of fresh 16″ Harley tires fitted to what appear to be Ford Model B wheels. It isn’t clear when the vehicle was originally built, or why it never actually ran at Bonneville, but I wouldn’t mind betting that it is an interesting story.

So, what to do with this cool custom? The possibility of turning the vehicle into a road car is an interesting one, but I suspect that there would be a multitude of legal and legislative issues that would need to be examined and addressed before this was even remotely possible. The owner floats the idea of it becoming a display piece in a museum or “man cave,” but I think that to do this would be a shame. This car was designed to do one job, and that was to go fast on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats. It has never had the opportunity to do this, so I hope that someone buys this little classic and rectifies that.


  1. Coventrycat

    Put a mowing deck underneath it if you can’t make it road ready.

    Like 7
  2. JerryDeeWrench

    Who ever built it knew his stuff. Now to find someone with enough hair to shoe it. That is the question.

    Like 5
  3. Butch

    Pan head look like a cake pan, that’s a knuckle head.

    Like 8
    • Dave

      1000cc Ironhead Sportster engine and transmission.

      Like 18
      • Butch

        And I had one!
        My 64 yr old eyes ain’t paying attention….

        Like 3
  4. Dan

    Looks like an Ironhead

    Like 3
  5. Steve R

    It would never make it through tech, there aren’t even any seat belts. This was built to cruise the paddock, not race. You might be able to drive it on streets depending where you live and how it’s registered. It would be a conversation piece at any car or motorcycle show. But I seriously doubt it was an attempt to be built as a serious race car since people generally read the sanctioning body’s rulebook before starting a build.

    Steve R

    Like 7
    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      Agreed.. not a serious competition build.

  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    Yep, Sporty motor, 72-85, but the 900 dates back to ’57. Pretty cool, and LOUD, I’m sure, great for beach runs, with that power in a 500lb vehicle, and no safety equipment, looks dangerous as heck. Here’s a Panhead motor, note the rocker covers look like bread pans.

    Like 6
  7. Bill

    Definitely a ironhead sportster….engine and trans all one unit

    Like 3
  8. JW454

    Aren’t the tries on the wrong sides? Shouldn’t the tread and sipens be turned the other way? I think I’d also opt for the heat shield for the battery.

    Like 1
  9. Rancher

    Known as a shovelhead engine I think.

  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Very nice build! I don’t see a kicker, push to start? Been there with my 71 FX many times. Nice catch on the tires JW454, I agree.

  11. PDXBryan

    As a Cycle Kart enthusiast I’m dying for more details on this build. What’s going on underneath that body?

  12. 86_Vette_Convertible

    The front end looks to have taken their inspiration from a Massey Harris farm tractor. I doubt this could either be raced or legally licensed on the street. Too many roadblocks on both counts that would have to be overcome. I think other than display it or let the kids play with it, it’s pretty much a static item IMO, and $15K makes it an expensive kids toy.

    Like 2
  13. Ken Carney

    Just load it into the back of my BIL’s F-350 and run it through the cruise course at Oldtown Fridays and Saturdays. I guarantee you won’t see another like it.
    Hi Mike! Got to play some live music over
    the weekend. Felt good being able to play again after 8 years of inactivity. Found out I can play, but only for a short
    time due to nerve damage in my right
    arm due to an accident and several small
    strokes. Took a few breaks, but I made it
    through the evening just fine. Time to get
    my 1955 Harmony Hollywood out of storage and get it back to playing condition again. Yesterday, I ran into an
    old friend who’s planning on putting together a big package show at our local
    flea market. He offered me a spot on the
    roster if I wanted it. Plan to meet him for
    coffee later this week as soon as we get
    Mom feeling well enough for me to try it
    for awhile. Other than that, this one cool
    little car! Mike and Frank would buy this
    for sure.

    Like 1
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Hey Ken that Hollywood is a nice axe, glad you are jamming again! I got an old Gibson ES 120T that I like to play through my old Fender Vibrolux Reverb. Kicks tail! Take your time bud and best of luck to your Mom. Mike.

  14. emsea

    I have been through Tech at Bonneville with my motorcycle. They take safety very seriously,checklists for everything. Start with a roll cage. This will be expensive and time consuming.Get a rule book before you start a build.
    177.092 mph average for 1 mile. Not close to a record.

    Like 1

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