by: Bryan Harley (*editor* motorcycle-usa.com)
Growing up, I used to love collecting cards. Odd Rods, hot rods, football, baseball – you name it, I collected it. The big-headed monsters riding hot rod cars and the Silly Cycles with funky creatures on motorcycles were some of my favorite. I’m a fan of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, too, who didn’t draw the illustrations on the cards but whose influence definitely inspired their creation.
So when my friend and co-worker brought in a handful of old school chopper trading cards from the ‘70s today, suddenly I’m nine-years-old again. They were part of a series put out by Street Chopper and Hot Bike magazines. These things are classic. Almost all the bikes have a King & Queen saddle, all of them have crazy long forks set out at impossible rakes, they’ve got the Ram bars that raise up then curl back and down, their tanks and frames dripping with metal flake paint. Included in the batch are a Honda Scrambler Chopper and a bunch of old Harley’s with Panhead engines.
The keeper of the bunch has 47-74 printed on the front along with the picture of a guy on a groovy scoot popping a wheelie. Turn it over and it reads “47-74 owned by Arlen Ness, Arlen’s Motorcycle Necessities of San Leandro, California. Harley-Davidson, 1947, 74. Carburetion: Dual Webers. Exhausts: Tuned Straight Pipes. Frame: Handmade, 3-degree rake. Front end: Handmade Girder. Rear tire/wheel: 5.00 X 16. Handlebars: Ram Bars Paint: Acrylic Lacquer Seat: Custom Diamond Lights: Custom Small Round." I didn’t recognize the helmetless rider at first because his face is partially obscured by the bars, but the closer I inspected it, the more I’m certain it’s none other than Arlen himself ripping off a wheelie on a cool chopper.
The others have names like the Gladiator Scorpion, The Mindbender, Home Brew (a custom trike with a ’63 Oldsmobile aluminum V8 engine), On My Own 74, and one that just says ‘WOW.’ There’s even a card with the Easy Rider bike on it. They may only be small pictures printed on old paper, but for me they bring back memories of simpler times. Now I’m craving a piece of powdery, sugar-coated bubble gum.
CREDITS: Bryan Harley
Cruiser Editor (motorcycle-usa.com)