Perfect Project? 1965 Harley-Davidson Panhead

With winter setting in for those of us in the North, this time of year brings indoor projects and dreams of spring cruising. This bike is currently featured here on Hemmings and is lot W81 at the upcoming Mecum Motorcycle auction in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 23-27, 2018. I can’t think of a better way to beat the winter blues than with a motorcycle auction in January in Las Vegas. Most of the bikes featured at higher-end auctions are completed restorations or original survivors. This 1965 Harley-Davidson FLH Panhead is an unfinished project, which will be perfect for someone looking for a new ride for next summer.

This particular bike features a 74 cubic inch engine and has both electric and kick start.  According to Motorcycle-USA: “Introduced in 1965, the Harley-Davidson FL Electra Glide was the last Harley motorcycle fitted with a Panhead engine and the first big H-D cruiser with electric start…The H-D Electra Glide was initially offered with optional carry-over features like a dual-muffler system and a hand-shift/foot-clutch arrangement. Nineteen-sixty-five was also the first year that the Electra Glide script graced the motorcycles’ front fender.”

This bike has been modified enough that the new owner doesn’t have to feel bad to finish it the way they see fit. Black leather seat, sure. Brown leather, why not? The options are endless. There is also the option of a restoration. Both the ad on Hemmings and the information from Mecum are lacking in specific details about the originality of the bike. It appears to have a lot of correct parts and may be a good candidate for restoration. Myself, I’d make it run well and enjoy it with out much fuss and muss. How about you?


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  1. James

    badass bike

  2. Francisco

    Needs a cheese grater.

  3. JimmyJ

    The only panhead that doesn’t leak oil is one with no oil in it….

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Harley’s don’t drip oil; they mark their spot.

      • Jay E.

        Same with radial engine airplanes but on a bigger scale. Friend worked on a Super Guppy with Pratt 4360’s. It would cough gallons of oil out of the pail sized exhaust pipes on start up.

    • Houndawg

      It’s just making it’s territory.

  4. chad

    need a ~69 XLCH ina basket…

    • Ski Knowles

      Been looking for one of these myself.

    • mtshootist1

      I just finished a basket case 69 XLH, only took twenty years and 6 grand. My wife had bought it before we met. I gallantly told her that I would get it running. The bottom end of the transmission was blown out, the trap door broken in half, gears trashed, cams trashed, total rebuilt, Now I would have sold the boxes of junk and bought her about five sportsters with what I got in this one 69.

  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    The last of one era, first of the next, this one needs to be fixed original, right down to the ‘glass’ saddlebags, the big windshield and the buddy seat. I remember the dealer in Great Falls got a couple in right away. One was red and the other was that funny shade of purple that I saw Electra Glides in until about ’72. The electric start was an option that cost about $100.00. Imagine a new Electra Glide, off the showroom floor for $2200.00. I’d love to have the purple one.

    • mike

      Yes sir…the last year for Panhead…and the first year for push button starters. Gotta love that

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Yeah, the push button. With two bad knees and a bad hip, a button is about the only way I’m going to continue to enjoy riding. And I kicked for years…..

  6. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I am seeing a red and white scooter here. My buddy owns a first year low rider I believe. Parts are very hard for him to find. Kick and the button, apparently a one year only starter. I hope this is not the same case with this Glide. Really, she looks pretty as is in my eyes, with a seat and p-pad. I do not get the cheese grater comment though? Maybe a Wisconsin thing, and I love cheese! And Wisconsin brews some pretty great beers as well!

  7. mikethetractorguy

    If I could afford it, I would go over the mechanics and ride it as is. Reminds me of the ’64 I had in the mid 90s. There are already enough over-restored garage queens…

  8. Gassser Man

    I have a 59 pan head old school rigid frame chopper. Even though the engine is fresh, you have one chance to kick start it when its hot. It either cranks or it floods. Let it sit 30 minutes and it will start. Fun bike but with the rigid frame, not a road bike. I ride an air head boxer BMW for long trips.

  9. SMS

    What strikes me is a pre AMF Glide. Not the most reliable but easy to ride long distances. To me they also have the best looks.

    I’m with Mike. Old bikes look good old. It is a shame that these are now out of reach for wash um and ride bikes.

  10. Rube Goldberg Member

    In the late 70’s, I helped a then friend restore a Pan like this. He did it up in black and white, kind of a police special motif. It was/is a simple bike, and never let him down. The big city I’m from used these ( and Servi-car’s) extensively as their rides. The electric start was very handy. In the past, if H-D’s didn’t start on the 2nd or 3rd kick,,,oh, oh, might be a while, and we all took turns kicking the old Harley. I think this bike really changed everything for Harley, especially for women. Great find.

    Like 1
  11. mtshootist1

    I have owned two 65 FLH Harleys in my life, one was the fifth Electraglide built,in HiFi Blue and White and the other was a red and white FLH with a 1947 sidecar attached, I’d probably get it running first, and see what kind of condition the wiring harness was in. These bikes were reasonably dependable, but still required the ability to wrench on them. The rust on this one indicates that it was in a damp environment. If it got as far as this, with primer, and assembled, it might have already been gone through. There is something funny about that timing cover though, in 65 they were pretty well squared off, the covers weren’t rounded on the edge like the earlier ones, makes me think that it might have been replaced at some point with an earlier one.

  12. mtshootist1

    I took a closer look on the auction website, the tanks are wired together, there is some tag on one of the wires hanging out of the back of the headlight nacelle, the passenger peg on the right side appears to have one nut holding it on to the transmission kickstart cover, which if I am looking at it right, appears to have one nut holding the cover on. When I mentioned the wiring, it all went inside the handlebars, and inside the headlight nacelle, and under the speedo cover, between the tanks. Major pain in the butt, which was why I mentioned it in my first post. The generators were never all that good either. Personally I wouldn’t give more that 1500 bucks for this bucket of bolts. Assume you would have to strip it down to the bare frame and start all over again. I could build one of these in my sleep. Brings back a lot of memories of cruising around in the 1970s and 80s on these.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      If this bike made it to my place a complete tear down would be mandatory. You never know what skeletons are hidden behind the various covers. Your comment about generators reminds me about my own escapades. The late generators left something to be desired but the one in my old Servi-Car was a real adventure…..

    • LAB3

      You and I both know what a bike like this is worth to us but more importantly, what it would be worth to someone else if restored. If you could point me to a mostly complete panhead in need of a restoration for $1500 I can be anywhere in the country with a trailer in less than three days!

      • mtshootist1

        the price of harleys is in the tank. you would be better off investing your money in vintage jap bikes as there is still a market for collectible ones. As I was pointing out, this bike appears to have been somewhat slapped together just for the auction. I personally would think hard before I took this on as a project. But I’ve owned them before, you could easily get 10 grand wrapped up in this jewel, not counting purchase price. I couldn’t see if it had the correct tanks on it, The left side tank should have the internal gas shutoff with the knurled knob. I think it does, but difficult to say. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what it brings.

      • LAB3

        I’m in Michigan and have been flipping rice for awhile, HD’s in general are dropping somewhat but anything earlier than a blockhead is still fetching top dollar.

      • sluggo

        haha! $1500??? Those days went away in the early 1980s,, have not seen a cheap Panhead since. Pans and Knucks been on the rise for a long time and not just greybeards lusting after them,. Hottest commodity for the millennial & hipster riders for last 15 years. Come to the ONE Moto show in February in Portland Oregon. 3 days of bikes, bands and surprising amount of cute girls.
        Bikes are NOT fading away just those who were into the fad for a while dropped out but rabidly popular and Corporate America has noticed. Check out the sponsors lining up to hand out money. ** Its a FREE event to attend** Thanks to Corporate sponsors.

        The vegas auction tends to be the upper ceiling of prices and does not mean every rusty dog is worth Vegas auction prices but even a casual search on their website for Mecum/Mid America shows aint no cheap panheads. Panheads are forever, Forever Panheads.
        Jesus knows,,, Jesus rides one.

  13. Milt

    A neighbor to my parents place up the street saw that I was into motorcycles with my ’85 Honda 700. He was retiring and wanted to sell off his ’70 Electra Glide. I kept telling him no because I was into sport bikes. He was persistent and even got my dad to lean on me to buy it. I caved in and bought it for much less than the going rate. It was in mint condition with 11k miles driven over the 20 years he owned it. The thing was built like a tank and drove like a tractor. Sold it in ’95 to a dealer on trade for a new Triumph. It took about a year on the Triumph to realize I made a huge mistake. Nobody was waving or giving the thumbs up any more. Should have kept it. I think I’ll do an internet search now to see if I can find it. I still have a bunch of paperwork I can give to the current owner. It might still be in WA state.

    • sluggo

      That WAS a huge mistake, probably does better than any 401k in investment value. I found it amusing that Shovels are now collectible and going up in value, I was never impressed and considered them junk but nostalgia and retro cool is a powerful motivator.
      I know MANY younger guys who are selling their perfectly good Evos and twin cams so they can ride something vintage, And I see it all the time on Biker forums as well. Crazy I know… I like my evo,, and would sell it to have a Shovel but it happens all the time. I know a lot of grey beards who are perplexed about this and grumble that the prices have killed the market for the older bikes. ( TOO EXPENSIVE). Ironhead sporties are also very popular now and thats just crazy but couldnt give one away 25 years ago… now the coolest thing on wheels. For many of these people buying them the Bikes are way older than them.
      Most of these guys will buy a Shovel because a Pan or Knuck is just plain too much money and made out of that rare alloy

  14. sluggo

    Electra glide in Blue,,, watch that movie.

  15. Craig

    Cool bike and certainly would sparkle with a little attention, but someone will end up overpaying for it IMHO.
    If someone intends to buy, fix and flip they will never make money but if you want to ride it and keep it, hey, it’s your money and do what you want to do and enjoy it.

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