Stored Since ’55! 1947 Harley-Davidson

Apparently, this 1947 Harley-Davidson was parked after only about eight years of enjoyment after the engine failed. It was put in a barn in 1955 and was recently found in Northern Vermont. Some small parts and pieces were lost over the years, but OEM parts were sourced by Harley expert David Sarafan. This amazing bike can be found for sale here on with an asking price of $38,000. Now located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it is ready for another lease on life. Check it out, you probably won’t see a more original bike soon.

The original engine has been rebuilt and the ad says it “sounds amazing.” There were only a few nuts and bolts that needed to be replaced. Other than that, the only things that have been done are the exhaust system, battery, license plate bracket, and ignition switch. The bike still retains its original equipment wiring, tires, and lighting. There are amazing details on this bike like the badges, taillight and other small parts.

Here you can see a detailed shot of the front end. There is obviously some surface rust, but I would bet this bike will clean up really well with some elbow grease and minor cleaning. It would almost be a shame to completely restore this bike. As they say “they are only original once.”

The original Skyway blue paint is present as well as what appears to be original saddlebags and the seat looks original as well. Overall, this bike is has a great look. It will make a great addition to anyone’s garage. If it was your project would you get it running and driving well as-is? Clean it up and drive it or completely restore it?

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  1. Howard A Member

    Ok, it’s painfully obvious, all other avenues for making a quick buck on a vintage vehicle have been depleted, and the next big thing, is these bikes, most certainly fueled by none other than,,,you know his name. Allegedly, it’s been sitting as long as I’ve been alive. I find that hard to believe, and does it deteriorate like this from sitting, clearly inside? These were incredibly stout machines, I think this model went through the war, and unless they ran it out of oil, and the condition for only 8 years of running could assure that, I think this bike was run for 20 years, then put away. Either way, you’ve got to have a passion for something like this, compared to the shaft drive Indian the other day, this would be a hassle to drive. $38K,another $10(?) to make it look nice, who would spend almost $40grand,,, that’s 40 THOUSAND one dollar bills, would fill your living room, in case we’ve lost touch with what $40 grand looks like,for this? That’s incredible.

    Like 22
    • Steve R

      Bikes, like this have been part of the collectors market for a long time. This is nothing new.

      Steve R

      Like 10
      • Howard A Member

        Perhaps, but what is new is the 5 figure price tags.

        Like 7
    • Kevin R

      Honestly….if I could afford it I would jump on it. Even tho it’s over priced….but that’s just me.

      Like 1
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    I seldom comment on the asking price except to say that it’s over my budget. This is one that is—WAY over anyone’s budget. However it is what it is. I like 45s but not that much. I do say that I would need to know what broke in the engine because the 45 was almost indestructible. Some of the earlier models had a bottom end oiling problem but that was easily corrected by putting the forked rod to the rear. Typical wear and tear on the lifter stools and a shortage of replacements makes them a challenge, although a good machine shop can be very helpful. I would have a problem going over $10K without the engine running. The rest of the bike looks great…

    Like 6
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I stand corrected; I missed the part about the engine getting rebuilt, but I would still like to know, not only what failed but what all was done…

      Like 7
  3. Somer

    David Sarafan is one of the HD 45 gurus. Sitting in a non climate controlled environment will do this to bikes. Remember this was just an old , cheap bike when the engine died. Nobodies lamenting the lawn mower that may have been shoved behind it. Patina is chic now. People pay for it. They are asking for offers.I’m sure they’ll take more!
    Look at the industry in resto-rods!
    Like Dolly Parton said “It costs a whole lot of money to look this cheap”

    Like 13
    • Mountainwoodie

      Very clever use of Dolly’s classic comment….and so true.

      Almost the sine qua non of the P word craze.

      Nice looking bike though.

      Like 1
  4. Wildbill

    Diggin the ’63 in the back ground in one of the pics.

    Like 6
  5. Bob McK Member

    Original tires? I never had tires last 8 years on my bike. They must be made of really good rubber.

    Like 4
  6. A-body Fan

    I’d like to put that in my living room. That’s pure feel good Americana.

    Like 3
  7. Rick Haner

    it took 80 years for it to reach this stage in it’s life which tells the story of its origins…I can only hope the new owner DOES NOT restore it….and leaves it as it sits…

    Like 3
  8. Paul Jackson Member

    Knucklehead price for a 12-15k bike.

    Like 1
  9. Kurt

    Love to take this on as a project but for a tenth of that price. Forty grand can still buy a piece of good farmable land! Pass.

    Like 3
  10. Bob McK Member

    I must apologize to each reader of BF. I often make statements of what the new owner of a vehicle should do. (restore it or not restore it) I just read such a statement from someone else and it kind of pissed me off. How dare I tell anyone what they should do with their property. If I think something should be one way or another, I should BUY the vehicle and do exactly that. It is none of my business what someone else does. So, I am sorry! If I do it again please call me out on it.

    Like 7
    • A-body Fan

      No apology needed, it’s all in fun and well intended. Have a thumbs up.

      Like 3
  11. WaltL

    Makes me think of the old Indian saying from back in the day:
    “Harley, Harley made of tin, ride ’em out and truck ’em in.”

    Like 5
  12. Jon

    I’ve been riding and repairing HD and Indians for 45 years.
    The motorcycle is a standard 45’. It’s not a Police Bike, so asking price is way over market value.
    I don’t see anything unique about this bike.
    These bikes are normally 8k-19k in this condition.
    I have one in my shop in this condition and it’s all original. I’d like to get 38k for it.
    So good luck on getting the asking price. Maybe some rich guy in Fla. that has money to burn may by it.

    Like 4
    • Hemidavey

      i agree, why would anyone pay that much, do guys realize these top out about 50mph and need tinkering to keep running? My father rode a 45 in WWII, was a cycle scout, hit a mine git hurt real bad almost died. After war he worked for WarAssets, sold these 45 cube bikes for 75.00 each still in the crate! He sold everything, propellers, desks, pens, lockers, paper, coats, boots etc. I want one real bad but no way paying 38k

      Like 2
    • Stilbo

      Jon.. Agreed big time. Been buying, selling, restoring and riding WL’s and UL’s for more than 40 years now. If this has compression, I wouldn’t drop more than $8K tops.. I have two pre 1950 WL’s in the shop right now that look a lot nicer than this thing, run great, are just waiting for disassembly and paint and I bought both of them between Wauseon and Davenport for close to $8K cash..
      This thing IS wall art for some rich guy in Florida with more money than brains or it would be a great buy for a restaurant chain to dangle from a ceiling..
      Whenever anyone sees something like this and gets all weak kneed, they really need to check retail/replacement/loan values on NADA before flipping cash around.
      Unless you have cash to burn.

      Like 2
  13. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Thank you Jon! Very well put. I will be the first to admit I know nothing of H-D idiosyncrasies and I’m really nervous asking this but — did the standard bikes like this come with painted handle bars and forks? Seems with all the period plated stuff these would be too.

    • Jon

      Yes painted forks and handle bars were normal for these entry level bikes.

      Like 1
  14. chrlsful

    “…what is new is the 5 figure price tags…”
    as Jon sez (MY Paraphrase) no, not so, ppl have paid that much’n more.

    “Original tires? I never had tires last 8 years on my bike. They must be made of really good rubber.”
    We have a set of 80 y/o tractor tires (near pre rubber I assume) that are not even sun checked from the elements. They wear worse that modern tires but last otherwise. And Bro – we take each other w/a grain’a salt. No worries w/”what should B done” that’s 3/4ths the fun of this site…

    Bike I wanna C 4 sale is the last of the Harley’s B4 AMF bought them. As a kid hitchhikin round the country I spent some time in AZ. Fella there let me drive his brandy new ’69 XLCH. It rode like a bike should, sounded like a bike should, smelled…etc. Luv to buy 1 and put this springer frnt end on (all shinny’n chromed up). On the other hand a pan head full dresser, the 4 cyl Indian, Ariel 4 Square for open hwy. Same ol point for every automotive Q (they R a system after all) “What is the Application?!?” A suki GS1000 in 1 of those I-talian cafe` frames for the twisties, acourse my ’66 bronk for off rd aaahahahaaaa (right!)….

  15. Philip Bregar

    So the rule is to rebuild the engine, but keep its original patina? When I used to rebuild engines for the old VW’s, they were always clean when I reinstalled them.

    Like 3
  16. Scuderia

    I’m sure I knew at one time but simply can’t remember now, how many pieces are the same as the big twins of the same era? I know the frame and front end are different but what about the sheet metal etc. ?

  17. AMCFAN

    I remember about 25 years ago a local guy (typical long haired bike guru one in every town type) found/bought a vintage barn find 48 Indian Chief. Got it running and left corn husks on it etc. to throw the point across it was a find. To me I thought it looked great.

    I ran into him a few years ago. Said he took the money and ran. I couldn’t believe it. Said it almost beat his body to death riding it. The bike looked cooler then it was. His words.

    Paying 40 large to look at something. Take a picture. It’s free. If you want to ride buy a 1990’s HD big bike for $5K.

    Like 1
  18. Kenn

    Folks, this is the second time I’ve seen it written that these 45s would’t go over 50MPF. I rode one at 80 MPH on the highway between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti in 1956. Perhaps a worn-out one couldn’t do it, but that parameter wasn’t mentioned.

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      The run of the mill civilian 45 could do 80. The Servi-Car could only do around 50 by that was due to the 17 tooth (or less) countershaft sprocket. The military version was also geared low…

      Like 1
  19. skody54 Member

    This is remarkable. I have a 1942 wla-45 and when I tell folks it’s value keeps going up I didn’t think like that. Wow. I would love to take mine down to TROG once. I’d be happy.

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