In 1958 Harley Davidson presented a pair of 1959 FLH Panheads to a pair of the Nation’s top rock’n’roll performers, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. Lot S 157, to be offered for bidding at Mecum’s Kissimmee, Fla. Auction beginning January 16 and continuing through the 25, 2015, is one of these two motorcycles. It is a FLH Duo-Glide, which appears to be brand new (after 55 years of care and consideration under Jerry Lee) and sports only 2,257 original miles.
Listing “old age” as the foremost reason for placing the Panhead on the auction block, Jerry Lee looks back on some fond memories “It’s a fine motorcycle, no comparison to my ’57 Panhead – the motor on that one wasn’t quite as nice. This motor is just as good as the day it was given to me.” Asked why he’s selling a precious piece of personal history he’s owned for 55 years, Lewis becomes pensive. “There was a time I wouldn’t take a zillion dollars for it, but now it’s just sitting there. You can crank that motorcycle up and she purrs like a kitten – but you have to kickstart it you know. I could probably sit on it alright today, but I wouldn’t take a chance. I’m 79 years old. This bike is like a child to me, but I’ve decided it’s time to let it go.” This classic motorcycle’s relationship to this rebellious rock star adds to its value and solidifies its prominence in the motorcycle community. Despite the fact that Jerry Lee Lewis seemed to go out of his way to rebel against society, pioneering a lifestyle of debauchery through “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” over 50 years ago, he still remains alive and well, even performing on occasion and regularly riding his favorite Harley Davidson Motorcycles.
Jerry’s first bike was a Cushman Scooter which he rode working on his father’s farm back in 1951. While it was fun, it wasn’t a real bike and as soon as the money dropped (in the form of a Sun Studios record contract for the album “Crazy Arms” which sold 300,000 copies) Jerry bought himself a brand new 1957 Harley Davidson FLH Panhead with a 74 CI engine. He rode this bike all over the country, primarily across the south. This led to a love affair with the Harley Davidson Motorcycle that continues until this day.
In 1958, despite Jerry Lee’s uproarious stage presence and lifestyle, he had become one of the front runners in the rock’n’roll community. He was on the scale of such artists as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, and even Elvis Presley. Harley Davidson believed themselves to be on the cutting edge of marketing and product placement when they decided to give both Elvis and Jerry Lee the matching bikes. In typical rockabilly style, Elvis was “put-out” by the fact that Jerry Lee received his motorcycle first and the two men joked openly together about a trade.
The 1959 FLH stands to be one of the most valuable American motorcycles ever to cross the auction block. Between the exquisite condition of the bike, its low mileage count, its unique relationship with Jerry Lee Lewis and the Rock’n’Roll community this could truly be a record setting entry.