WE LOVE CAFÉ racers, we love bobbers, and we love a killer scrambler. But we also love great classics, and sometimes they come from an unlikely manufacturer. This year at Mecum’s Las Vegas auction, a rare bike nearly sold for nearly $1 million, and it wasn’t a Henderson, or an MV Agusta, not even a Vincent or a rare Indian. Nope. It was a Harley-Davidson.
The most expensive motorcycle sold this year at the 2023 Mecum auction was a 1908 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank. This rare bike has an interesting pedigree that makes it a one of a kind. Less than a dozen of these bikes exist, however this one could be the most original. This Strap Tank, so called because the gas tank and oil tank are held to the bicycle-like frame with nickel strap, is one of the oldest surviving HDs and predates panhead Harleys by decades.
When the auction gavel fell, the bike went for $850,000. That works out to $935,000 after auction fees. Watch the gavel fall in Mecum’s video.
This particular Strap Tank was found by motorcycle collector David Uihlein in 1941, and he kept it for 66 years. Yes, it was restored, but it’s one of the most correct and original bikes from that era. It has the original tank, wheels, engine belt pulley, seat cover and muffler sleeve.
Yes, that’s a lot of scratch for an old Harley. It’s not the most expensive motorcycle ever sold, but it is the most expensive bike ever sold by Mecum in Vegas. It wasn’t the first Strap Tank that Mecum ever sold, in 2021 the company sold a 1907 Strap Tank for $297,000. But this bike has a well-documented history, as well as well-documented original 115-year-old parts.