THE MYSTERY PANHEAD………………..
Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 in Buck Lovell’s – American Biker Blog
A REAL CHOPPER FROM 1963…..
WHO WAS THE ORIGINAL BUILDER?
By Buck Lovell photos by Buck Lovell
I photographed this absolutely genuine and magnificent example of an original real deal chopper of the 1960’s at a small motorcycle shop in North Hollywood, California. The photos were made around 1990. The shop was owned and operated by an 81 motorcycle club member named NZ. NZ has since returned to New Zealand probably because he was burnt out with the mind numbing congestion present even today on Los Angeles, California freeways. Riding the freeways in SoCal on a motorcycle is probably one the scariest things I’ve ever done. I commuted to Whittier, Ca, from Riverside, Ca everyday for 13 years, I was a lane splitting fool! California’s dire traffic situation is only destined to get worse. At the time I photographed the bike, I didn’t have the forethought to get the complete historical story of the motorcycle from NZ, as I was mainly concerned with the technical features, and taking good photographs. NZ was very busy with shop projects and duties. What makes this bike a bit more interesting than most is not only the fact that it is a genuine, non-restored chopper from the mid 1960’s, but the unusual number boss designation. The number boss reads simply “Sonny B.” I’m thinking Sonny Barger was asked by NZ whether or not the bike could possibly have been built or owned by him, but Sonny couldn’t recall that he’s built such a bike. Harley-Davidson Panhead motorcycles were very plentiful and relative inexpensive during the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, and many if not most were customized into lightweight Choppers. Shovelheads were the new kids on the block. The traditional 1960’s dual upswept exhaust system seen here was designed to annoy the squares in the their four wheeled vehicles, and look good doing it. The exhaust noise and gases are dumped at almost exactly window height, which usually caused a car driver to roll up his window if a motorcycle like this pulled up next to him or her at a traffic light. Maybe NZ will read this article and contact me with additional information. For you guys who have been riding since the 1960’s and 1970’s the bike will be very familiar. Very few aftermarket bolt-on goodies or aftermarket accessories were available to bike builders in the 1960’s. Virtually everything that is not a genuine Harley-Davidson component on this motorcycle was probably hand made by whomever customized the bike. Most of the original (OEM) equipment that made this motorcycle a bagger or “dresser” as sold, has been stripped off in true Chopper tradition. Less weight means faster acceleration, that’s what Choppers do best, accelerate in a straight line..