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Barn Find Treasures?

Buzz Kanter Columns Harley Magazine Blog This Months Column

Barn Find Treasures?

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter
Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter


SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

These rare antique motorcycles were even
more exciting in person…

Have you heard the urban legend about some lucky guy who stumbles onto an amazing antique bike? It’s usually stashed away in a barn, shed, or basement, hidden away from the world for decades. It’s usually pretty complete, rare, and original, but neglected and waiting to be revived for the road. The best ones have a great story attached to them, ripe with passion and history. Sounds like a Mike and Frank story from American Pickers, right?

Well, it happened to me, and it’s all true! As we go to press, the saga is still unfolding. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that this deal will go as hoped. I don’t want to jinx it, but I thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes perspective as the details unfold.

I’m still pinching myself on this one to make sure I’m not dreaming. I’ve been chasing down leads on old bikes like these for almost four decades. Some bring me to piles of rusty junk and dead ends. Others, however, lead to genuine motorcycling treasures. In the last month I came across possibly one of the most exciting antique motorcycle barn finds ever—at least for me. A few weeks ago, I got a call from Tim, the adult son of a neighbor in Vermont. He asked if I’d look at some old bikes that his father-in-law was interested in selling for a recently deceased friend. I get a lot of these calls, and replied in my usual manner asking for some details. He and his wife, Stephanie, got back a week later with a list of five rare and classic machines. An old Indian, an HRD Comet, a Vincent Rapide, a Velocette Thruxton, and a Norton Atlas. Tim and Stephanie immediately had my undivided attention, especially with the old Indian. I asked if they could send me photos of the bikes, plus any additional info. And then I waited. Anxiously.

About a week later I got an e-mail with some photos of the bikes all jammed together and covered in dust and junk inside an old barn. The photos were dark and not very sharp or clear, but I recognized this was an amazing opportunity that I had to learn more about.

We swapped phone calls and e-mails for a few days. Then Tim and his friend, who prefers newer motorcycles, carefully moved the bikes out of the old barn in Pennsylvania. They brought them to a cleaner and more secure storage garage on Tim and Stephanie’s New England farm until they could figure out what to do with them. They wanted me to confirm what they were, what condition they were in, what they were worth, and how to best sell them. Wow! They didn’t have to ask me twice. I rearranged my plans for that weekend and headed north. These rare antique motor-cycles were even more exciting in person. I carefully inspected each of them and explained what they were, the pluses and minuses of each bike, and a range of what each bike was worth. They wanted to sell them, so I was happy to make a solid offer on a few of them, and am anxiously waiting on their reply. As you might imagine, patience has never been my strength in situations like this, but I am feeling good about this. Wish me luck, as the original-paint 1913 single-speed V-twin Indian is an amazing machine. It deserves to be left as original as possible but brought back to riding condition.

Motorcycle Kickstart Classic
Every year we have a fun, informal, two- or three-day classic bike ride for our readers. We are finalizing the last details on a great new location for the third week of September. We are planning to ride spectacular motorcycle-friendly roads ending the two-day ride on the evening of September 21 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. The next day we have special access to the Coatesville Invitational GP to check out the classic car and motorcycle races on a closed course on public roads. For more info on the races, visit Coatesville GrandPrix.com. Who knows, I might enter the races on my tank shifter Sport Scout.

The Motorcycle Kickstart Classic is open to riders of all motorcycles, American or import, new or old. Riders on electric-start bikes have to ride in the back and pick up the parts that fall off the old bikes up front.

By the time you read this I would hope we have all the details nailed down and registration forms available. For more info visit our web site AIMag.com or call Rosemary at the office 203/425-8777 ext 114.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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