This Barn-Hidden Harley-Davidson Collection Includes Rare Knuckleheads and Trikes

Unlike motorcycles, barn-found classic cars get a lot of attention today. But vintage bikes can be just as spectacular, especially Harley-Davidsons built before and around World War 2. Like this stash of rare Knuckleheads.
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Photo: Backyard Barn Finds/YouTube
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Documented by YouTube's "Backyard Barn Finds," this barn-kept collection includes about ten vintage Harley-Davidson bikes. And most of them hail from the 1930s and 1940s and sport Knucklehead engines.

Nicknamed like this due to the shape of valve covers, the Knucklehead was the company's third "big twin" mill. It arrived in 1936 to replace the Flathead and was superseded by the Panhead in 1948. Regarded as one of the first modern motorcycle engines, the Knucklehead pioneered the layout that Harley-Davidson still uses in the Milwaukee-Eight mill.

The footage starts with the most original Knucklehead the owner can brag about. A 1939 version finished in turquoise, this bike is about 90% original. And that's a massive percentage for a vehicle that's 84 years old as of 2023. Don't let the patina fool you, though; this Harley-Davidson has been restored, and the Knucklehead engine rebuilt.

It also sports a few features unique to this model year, including a gearbox with the neutral set between second and third gear. It's among the most valuable bikes in this collection as 1939 Knuckleheads in similar condition fetch anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.

The collection also includes a first-year 1936 version, considered the holy grail of Knucklehead-powered Harley-Davidsons. However, this one's not as original as the 1939 model, having been restored with many reproduction parts. The owner estimates the motorcycle is about 50% original, which isn't bad given how rare these Knuckleheads are.

These early bikes share the barn with a couple of mid-1940s iterations, including a final-year 1947 version. They look just as cool, and amazingly enough, they still run. If you're into WLDs the owner has a 1940 variant, but this one's been modified throughout the years.

He also has a couple of trikes, both of the vintage variety. Parked next to each other in a corner, these are part of the Servi-Car lineage and left the assembly line in 1937 to 1939. They're relatively early models since the Servi-Car was introduced in 1932.

If you're not familiar with Harley-Davidson's first trike, the Servi-Car was designed during the Great Depression as a way to expand the company's product base and increase sales. It was aimed at automotive repair shops and offered with a tow bar and a larger battery. The Servi-Car eventually became popular as a utility vehicle for small businesses and police departments.

Powered by various versions of the company's Flathead engine, the trike remained in production until 1973. It was the last Harley-Davidson vehicle to use the old Flathead powerplant and the last trike until the Tri Glide Ultra Classic was introduced in 2009.

If you're not fond of old bikes, the barn is also home to a small collection of pre-WW2 American classics. You'll see a 1940 Packard, a 1947 Cadillac, and even a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr. An early iteration of Lincoln's aerodynamic luxury car, the latter is among my favorite 1930s classics. It's not one of the more desirable coupe models, but this four-door also hides a 4.4-liter V12 under the hood. Check them all out in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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