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Dream Cars: Harley Hot Rod

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Motorcycles Topics:  Ford Hot Rod, Harley-Davidson
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Dream Cars: Harley Hot Rod

Bill Crittenden
July 22, 2013


Over the years folks have tried to bring big American cruiser motorcycle attitude to four wheeled transportation.  Some were homemade jobs, some were official Ford trucks, but the idea of a Harley-Davidson Edition car or truck has a special appeal.  Few other brands inspire such loyalty and devotion, and motorcycle riders occasionally need a four-wheel ride.

Ford tuned the exhaust of the F-150 pickup truck to give it a resonance similar to a Harley, put orange pinstripes on a black truck, and called it a day.  Granted, that's the most useful Harley edition possible, but I have an idea that would capture the spirit better, to come as close as possible to riding an over-the-top custom Harley-Davidson without having to balance on two wheels.

I prefer four-wheeled convertibles over motorcycles because you get the open-air experience, cupholders, and a relaxing ride without helmets, leather, and risk of road rash.  It's taste and preference, "to each their own," you know?  How best to combine the biker culture with the convenience of a car?

Because of the official association between Ford and H-D, and because the Ford "T-bucket" hot rod is iconic in its own right, that's where I'd start.  The Ford Model T- based hot rod is so close to a motorcycle already: more open than a modern convertible, low-tech, open engine on display.

Of course, a coat of flat black paint, black leather seats, hand painted orange pinstripes, and chrome all over the engine would complete a look, but I want a little more.  You can replace the steering gear with a quicker ratio for less input required by the driver and replace the steering wheel with a set of handlebars.  Exhaust pipes running along the passenger side below the door, ending next to the rear wheel to evoke a motorcycle exhaust.  Classic spoke wheels all around, with front tires that resemble front motorcycle tires in size and look (being a hot rod, street slicks on the back).

Oh, and you can put in a Harley-Davidson V8 engine.

A what?

Okay, it doesn't exist yet.  But I've seen enough multi-engine dragsters to know that it's just a matter of engineering skill to take a design as simple as an H-D V-Twin apart and couple one to another, to another, to another, to turn four of them into a hugely loud V8 engine.  Hearing protection may be necessary.

Expensive?  You betcha.  Fast?  Maybe not so much.  Definitely more for show than go, something that you can roll into any show and get attention more for the engineering that went into it as the uniqueness and the epic noise it'd make.  Maybe it could even win a few hot rod show trophies...we'll never know because I can't afford to build it anywhere but in my imagination!



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