Harley and the Davidsons finished their first, single-cylinder, 116cc motorcycle prototype in 1903. It wasn't a lemon per se, but it lacked a motorcycle's defining characteristic: power. Their second bike, developed just a year later, was enough of an improvement to compete in a race and become the first recorded appearance of true a Harley-Davidson. And while you can't bid for that bike from Mecom Auctions on March 20-21, 2015, you can attempt to shell out an anticipated $800,000 to $1 million for what is still one of the earliest models, a 1907 "Strap Tank" Harley-Davidson motorcycle. About 207 total were built in the boys' newly minted Milwaukee factory on Chestnut Street (renamed Juneau Ave., still the company's HQ) between 1903 and 1907.
According to Mecom, the Strap Tanks are the "rarest and most coveted of all Milwaukee machinery." They get their name from the nickel-plated steel bands that suspend their fuel and oil tanks from the frames. This 1907 issue up for auction has a serial number of 2037, suggesting it's probably the 37th Harley-Davidson built in that year, and the 94th built ever (prototypes included). Obviously unrestored, the motorcycle comes from the Leo Bongers estate auction, purchased in David City, Nebraska over 20 years ago. Bongers was the bike's original owner.
When it reaches its new owner the 1907 Strap Tank will go with a title, original paint, and a reputation as the best unrestored H-D Strap Tank still available in the world.
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