The most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction is now officially the ultra-rare 1908 Harley, fetching a staggering $935,000 at the Mecum Auction in Las Vegas on January 28, as reported by Vintagent, an authority on vintage motorcycle sales. Only 450 of these motorcycles were produced by Harley-Davidson in 1908, and surviving examples from this early period are exceptionally scarce.
This particular 1908 Harley-Davidson, known as the Strap Tank, holds a special place in the brand's history as the first of its kind. The Strap Tank earned its name from the nickel-plated steel bands suspending the fuel and oil tanks from the frame. The model's significance lies in its robust design, a characteristic highly valued in an era without well-established roads and highways.
Harley-Davidson's journey began in 1905 in a small wooden shed, producing just five motorcycles that year. By 1908, the production had increased to 450 machines, making the Strap Tank a symbol of the brand's early success. This particular bike was discovered as a complete motorcycle in a Wisconsin barn by David Uihlein in 1941 and remained in his possession for 66 years. Expertly restored with the assistance of Paul Freehill of Fort Wayne, Indiana, the motorcycle retains its original tank, wheels, engine belt pulley, seat cover, and muffler sleeve.
Ontario, Canada, also has a connection to this extraordinary find. While the bike spent most of its life in Wisconsin, its story and significance extend beyond state lines, emphasizing the global allure of such a rare and well-preserved piece of Harley-Davidson history.