Vintage Motorcycle Trio – Tennessee Thunder
This vintage motorcycle trio came about through the power of the internet, well Facebook actually. Recently, we put out the call to a vintage motorcycle group in middle Tennessee saying we would like to feature some bikes for you faithful Fuelers. The reply was nearly instant and we took an afternoon to shoot the bikes for y’all. They were all located within an hour’s drive and as you can see are stellar examples of V-Twin glory.
They take us down memory lane and are each pristine in their own way. The past isn’t always a welcome memory for some of us but every now and then we are reminded of how far we’ve come. This trio of bikes illustrates that point. Many road miles, many state lines, lots of changes and even war. Just imagine the stories they could tell!
In 1936, Harley Davidson came out with the 61 cubic-inch E, ES and EL model motorcycles. These models became known as the “knucklehead’s” because the shape of the rocker castings looked like a clenched fist. Harley-Davidson introduced their first big-twin overhead-valve engine with this motorcycle. It was the first Harley to have a speedometer as standard equipment. This bike showed true perseverance during a hard time in America. Despite the troublesome economic times during the 30s and 40s, this bike helped pull America through. This 1946 model E has the four-speed transmission, foot clutch and tank shift – unique to most bikes you see today. Owner Scott Brantley from Sid’s Cycles in Tennessee has not let this bike sit still. He purchased it from an owner in California 18 years ago and it still holds its own. The majority of the bike is still stock but he did rebuild the engine just a few years ago. His longest trips include a 300 mile one-way blast as well as a 1,000 mile round trip – not too shabby for a 72 year old bike!
Motorcycles weren’t always just for pleasure riding, like this 1940 Indian Military Chief. During World War II, the US Army purchased these bikes for special use including high ranking military escorts. This solo Chief was not a bike for novice riders – at 1200cc it was a very heavy and powerful bike compared to the typical 500cc – 700cc bikes used in the military. Fully restored and a rare piece to own, this bike and its owner Kenneth Brown get quite a bit of attention. It won 1st place American Antique at the AMCA show in 2017, has been featured in American Iron magazine, and won cover of the year in Thunder Road magazine. A beautiful piece of American history that is still alive today, we love its authenticity.
It was an incredible experience to photograph these bikes and to feel their history. Just standing next to them we could sense their energy and history through good times and hard times. They are a testament to the beautiful designs of past!