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Faux Patina: Restored 1947 Harley-Davidson FL

If ignorance is bliss, I spent decades as one of the happiest people on the planet. I used to view Harley-Davidsons unfavorably, failing to understand that these are more than mere motorcycles. Owning a Harley is a lifestyle choice, which explains why older examples are highly sought after. This 1947 Harley FL is a perfect example of the breed. It underwent a restoration around ten years ago using nothing but OEM parts. It has clocked under 1,000 miles since but is ready for a new owner to ride it away over the horizon. The FL is listed here on eBay in New Windsor, New York. Bidding sits below the reserve at $50,200, with plenty of time remaining for that figure to climb considerably.

Opinion is always divided on how an owner should treat a vintage Harley. Some enthusiasts fully support the concept of total restoration, while others espouse preservation. This FL treads a middle ground, having undergone a nut-and-bolt restoration a decade ago. However, the seller didn’t return its frame and steel to its sparkling factory best but adopted a simulated patina paint scheme. Okay, I’ll raise my hand and admit I’m not a massive fan of the approach, but the current bid figure suggests others like what they see. The frame is solid, and the factory tin is in good order. There are no significant bumps or bruises, while the sparkling chrome and alloy offer a pleasing contrast. The leather seat looks extremely comfortable, and the winning bidder will only need to splash cash on the Harley’s cosmetics if the paint scheme doesn’t meet their approval.

The defining characteristic of any Harley is its V-Twin engine. The company introduced the Knucklehead version in 1936, retaining it until 1947. Produced initially with a capacity of 61ci, it was enlarged to 74ci in 1941. The change sounds modest, but it allowed the motor to produce a useful increase in power and torque. This FL would have been one of the last made with this legendary Twin, which should send its 53hp to the road via a four-speed transmission. These engines don’t mind revving to a certain extent, but the low-end power and torque delivery make this unnecessary. The ground-up restoration on this classic included an engine rebuild, with the forks and wheels receiving similar attention. The seller insisted on using OEM parts across every aspect, so the winning bidder is unlikely to be let down by second-rate mechanical components. It has clocked under a thousand miles since the build ended and is a rider-ready proposition for its new owner.

I feel like I’m covering old ground, but spending years failing to understand the Harley-Davidson ownership experience is a mistake on my part. These aren’t simply motorcycles, but offer membership into a “family” that will support and assist their brethren wherever possible. These machines command respect, and the prices older examples achieve graphically demonstrate this. They are rarely cheap, but their steadily increasing value makes them sound financial investments. If you crave a “boots in the breeze” classic ownership experience, it might only be a bid away with this 1947 Harley-Davidson FL.


  1. Bob

    Very nice. A real labor of love but, personally, I don’t see $50,000 there.

    Like 19
    • Paul Alexander

      I think what a person spends on an antique motorcycle should be carefully thought out. Buying one for future resale profit is a lot different from buying one for an occasional nostalgic ride. Having owned several old Harleys over the past decades, in various configurations, I’ve realized that it doesn’t take tons of cash to enjoy the sensation of riding an old iron horse. I agree with you about the 50,000. It doesn’t take 50K to get a few kicks on the weekend, and with a big investment like that, you sure would need to be careful how and where you rode it, and where you parked it, too. With 50K invested, a prudent individual wouldn’t want to take their eyes off it, lest it be quickly stolen.l

      Like 0
    • Rocco Castillbuono

      Apparently you don’t know what your talking about

      Like 0
  2. Robert

    Yeah the price tag is a bit exorbitant, but this is a very desired classic in the world of Harleys, everyone who rides a Harley (or I’d say at least most) would love to own a knucklehead, or a panhead, but you’re gonna pay for them! You can still get a well done shovelhead for less than premium bucks, but the former two engine styles will set you back a pretty penny! No, I’d never give anyone 50 grand for a bike of any year or engine style, but if I won the lottery I might change that attitude.. my 94 Fatboy (blockhead 1340), ‘ol Red’, still lights a fire in my loins, so I’m not necessarily in the market for another bike, but this one’s a sweetie! I never much cared for the fishtail pipe tips, but that would be easily enough rectified, some 2 1/2″ drag pipes would make this knucklehead sing! Drool rag please! I’ve heard many people complain about how loud Harleys are, but I live in a whitetail deer-rich area, and they hear me coming and skeedaddle, as do most other nocturnal critters that typically get mashed on the roads at night…

    Like 10
  3. geezerglide 85

    Using OEM parts is a big deal with these. The after market makes just about everything for this bike, but quality can vary. Tracking down OEM parts is a lot of work and, certain one year only parts can be expensive. An AMCA judge will know the difference. I like the way this was done it’s not too pristine to ride.
    Good luck to the seller and future buyer.

    Like 7
  4. James

    Hmm, no aftermarket parts okay maybe some aftermarket accessories. All ’47 parts? Don’t think so. Likely pieced together which these days is pretty normal. All and all a decent looking bike but the poor patina job should be redone. There are quality jobs being done these days this isn’t one of them Looks like someone simply went over the thing with a brillo pad. For 50K + you can do better. ’47’s are the most common not that hard to find.

    Like 8
  5. Faroutfreak

    I did a nut and bolt, frame off restoration of my 1973 Flhp ( Ive owned New since 1974 ). I put over $35,000.00 in Genuine H/D parts ( including the Nuts and bolts ), I did everything but the Paint Myself ( the Paint was over $ 7,000.00 alone ), rebuilt the forks, Brake calipers, All bearings ,,etc I took the Bike to a couple of shows, where I took home best of Show. It was Stolen a few months later, of course the cops refused to do anything ( I knew who stole it as he had made threats, after my winning, the shows. ). I was lucky to find the Motor and Transmission, but they had cut the frame into a motor stand. They scraped the paint off , etc I located another Frame but did not restore it for show after that, but It’s still my ride of choice !

    Like 9
  6. Faroutfreak

    BTW I also put a new Wiring Harness etc. The cops refused to help me recover it because they had seen me a few times riding with members of a MC ( Guys I grew up with, that have remained friends with to this day )

    Like 6
  7. Derek

    “These aren’t simply motorcycles…”

    I disagree; they are simply motorcycles. Time spent working for a dealer taught me that.

    H-D themselves would agree with you, as it helps them sell t-shirts!

    Like 6
  8. Mike

    I love the random wear marks. “Let’s put a little paint wear here and a little over there. Oh, this area looks untouched. Gotta sand it down a little more in this spot. Humm… doesn’t look even. I’ll have to balance it out with a few more section of paint fade.”

    Like 6
  9. Bailsout

    I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I don’t like loud anything, especially loud H-D’s and riders who like to rev ‘em up, for a big, “Look at me!” Childish, rude and inconsiderate. One rider told me it was for his own safety so people know he’s coming. He wasn’t smart enough to know that the noise is mostly heard after he’s gone by. One rider said he enjoyed setting off car alarms in cars parked along Main Street. The local police and CHP don’t do anything as far as I can tell. Maybe I should just be angry with the sellers of the after market pipes. I ride a bike and I enjoy smooth and quiet. And my bike doesn’t enrage others.

    Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      Comes with age, my friend. The older you get, the more noise irritates you, especially at 2am. I saw a biker once with a t-shirt that said, “It’s all about me”,,and that’s the mindset. When I bought my ’85 FXRT, it had straight slash end pipes, which was even too loud for me. The answer was drilled out Sporty ends, I think, and was much better. I must admit I like quiet things too, and straight pipes on semis never did anything for me either. Some things are exempt however, top fuel dragsters, or any race car, H-Ds, 24 cylinder aircraft motors, but I agree, only for a short time, and nice and quiet is the rule for me too.

      Like 8
      • Howard A Member

        Regarding noise, there is some merit to “loud pipes save lives” schtick. On my GWs, I had FAR more tense moments of people lane changing and not see or hear me, but on my HD, was never an issue. Deer too. Deer generally run from the rumble. The noise was really part of it, and directly proportionate to the throttle position.

        Like 5
    • Arfeeto

      You’re certainly not alone, Bailsout!

      Like 4
  10. BCB42

    “It’s not just a motorcycle, it’s a lifestyle choice” ?
    Choice of what?
    Didn’t anyone watch Smokey and the Bandit?
    How bout Billy Jack?
    Who you tryin to be, with that lifestyle choice?
    B4 y’all say it, it’s obvious that I don’t ‘get’ it…
    Wooo … ima ’bout gonna get put in my place…
    (NOT a biker bar, tho… used to bounce at one… fun times, fun times)

    Like 3
  11. Steveo

    Fake patina looks fake. Why not just get an old Honda and fake that it’s a Harley.

    Like 2
  12. Howard A Member

    Since I’m here, “under 1,000 miles”,,mm, hmm,sounds like someone didn’t actually care for this once finished. Let me just say this, if people are throwing this kind of money into such frivolous items, we, as a country, are in worse shape than we think. I’m watching the car auctions, and it really is pretty foolish. These old men with their hands on their chins, hmm, $410,000, should I go $411,000? It’s all Hollywood acting, folks. And the people sitting in the audience? Seat fillers paid by Mecum. Same here, this isn’t worth a kidney( what do kidneys cost these days?) I mean, just seems to me, the money could be used for so many other things than a mere motorcycle that is a hassle to drive. Don’t think so? Clearly the owner found out, the hardtail and suicide shift were okay in 1947, but we’ve come a long ways in bikes. That’s it.

    Like 10
  13. Threepedal

    I like loud pipes for when I pull up next to some knuckledragger who has named himself the worlds DJ with his amped noisemaker blasting crap at other captive drivers

    Like 2
  14. Steve

    Harley’s sure inspire a lot of emotion. I’ve got five, some old. But I’ve got Japanese bikes too. People don’t get near as wound up about them.

    Like 2
  15. Greg

    I ride a Triumph!

    Like 0
    • jwaltb

      Th as to a motorcycle.

      Like 0
      • jwaltb

        That’s a motorcycle.

        Like 0

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