Common Tread

Can Elvis' last Harley-Davidson set an auction record?

May 16, 2023

Will we break a record set just a few months ago for the most expensive motorcycle sold at auction? It may depend on whether celebrity connections and rarity outweigh even greater rarity.

Up for sale this week at the Mecum auction in Indianapolis is a 1976 Harley-Davidson FLH Bicentennial Edition that was the last motorcycle Elvis Presley bought before his death. It's the celebrity connection that gives this FLH the potential to sell for a record-setting sum, and there are a few goodies to sweeten the deal. Elvis bought the bike in California, and although it has changed hands a few times since his death, none of the owners titled the motorcycle in their own names, so the original title with Elvis' signature comes with the motorcycle.

The FLH was on display at the Pioneer Museum in Murdo, South Dakota, from 1983 to 2019, according to Mecum. The four-speed, 1,207 cc touring bike has 1,261 miles on the odometer.

In addition to the celebrity connection, the FLH does have rarity on its side, too. Only 750 Bicentennial Editions were built.

In January at the Mecum auction in Las Vegas, an original 1908 Harley-Davidson "Strap Tank" sold for $935,000, after all fees were added. That made it, according to the list kept by The Vintagent, the most expensive motorcycle sold at auction. Other motorcycles have reportedly changed hands for more than $1 million, but since those were private sales, not public auctions, details aren't confirmed.

The 1908 Harley-Davidson sold for such a high price largely due to its rarity. The first Harley-Davidson model built, only a handful are believed to exist with the original paint.

Will the ties to the King and the current strong market for upscale collectibles push the FLH to or near the top of the list of most expensive motorcycles sold? We'll find out Saturday.