While million-dollar-plus collector cars are seen relatively frequently these days, the very idea of a million-dollar motorcycle still seems far-fetched. But Dana Mecum, head of Mecum Auctions, believes he might have a potential seven-figure motorcycle coming over the block Saturday at Kissimmee, Florida.
The bike is a 1959 Harley-Davidson FLH with just over 2,000 miles and single ownership by one of the greatest names in rock n’ roll, Jerry Lee Lewis.
“This could be the $1 million motorcycle,” Mecum said in a t news release. “Its history, and the continuous ownership by Jerry Lee since 1959 should drive the auction price to record numbers.”
Helping boost the sale will be the presence of “The Killer” himself. The 79-year-old Lewis will be on hand when his motorcycle comes on stage at the Florida auction.
The Harley was the first 1959 Panhead and was presented as a gift by Harley-Davidson to Lewis, who was a well-known Harley rider. The second Panhead also was gifted to a rock star, Elvis Presley, who supposedly was piqued that he didn’t get the first one.
But $1 million? Only one bike is known to have crossed the seven-figure threshold. The “Captain America” Harley-Davidson chopper purportedly used in the movie Easy Rider was sold at auction in October for a remarkable $1.35 million, even though its authenticity was in question.
After that sale, the drop off is pretty steep to the next highest motorcycle on record, a 1910 Winchester racer that sold in 2013 for $580,000, its allure no doubt influenced by being a rare motor product from the firearms company.
Even Steve McQueen motorcycles have failed to come anywhere near that level. Last week’s motorcycle sale by Bonhams in Las Vegas featured a 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E big twin once owned by the King of Cool; it sold for $117,300, including auction fee.
A comparable motorcycle sale to Jerry Lee’s would be that of a 1958 Ariel Cyclone 650 originally purchased by seminal rocker Buddy Holly, then later owned by country-music outlaw Waylon Jennings. The Ariel sold in October for $450,000, its lofty price overshadowed by that of the Easy Rider motorcycle.
But Jerry Lee Lewis’ Harley has some special things going for it. First off is the pristine originality of the highly desirable Panhead, which would put it in the six-figure range even without the rock-star provenance. Then there’s the fact that Lewis was the only owner for 55 years and consigned it himself to the auction.
And the electrifying appearance of the rock legend on the auction block should provoke a “whole lotta shakin’,” and most likely some over-the-top bidding.
“There was a time I wouldn’t take a zillion dollars for it, but now it’s just sitting there,” Lewis is quoted in Mecum’s catalog description of the Harley. “You can crank that motorcycle up and she purrs like a kitten – but you have to kickstart it, you know. I could probably sit on it alright today, but I wouldn’t take a chance. I’m 79 years old.
“This bike is like a child to me, but I’ve decided it’s time to let it go.”