• 60.33CI engine, 38 HP
  • 3 5/16″ bore X 3.05″ stroke
  • 515 lbs
  • 4 gal fuel capacity
  • 1 gal oil tank
  • Venetian Blue paint
  • With Croyden Cream panels
  • 1,526 produced
  • Original list price $380
  • A 10% buyer premium applies

While the ‘Knucklehead’ is recognized today as an utterly iconic American motorcycle, which set a stylistic standard so high it is echoed and imitated to the present day, Harley hid its light under a bushel the first year, fearful that disaster might strike from introducing such a radical machine. The EL wasn’t listed in the 1936 catalog or advertising, except in passing as a mention of successful events where the Knucklehead was ridden. And in truth, the first production year saw significant changes and improvements to the EL, which vexes restorers to this day, but none of this erases the true greatness of the design.

The EL was entirely new, from its frame to the engine, gearbox and overall styling. It was the first H-D with a duplex-tube frame, which gave terrific stability when riding, and of course, it was the first OHV Big Twin from Milwaukee for the street. H-D had built OHV bikes for racing since the ‘Teens, but their fragility kept the factory close to reliable F-Head and Flathead designs. Helping to keep the new OHV engine cool was Harley’s first recirculating oil system–a proper oil pump at last. The gearbox now had four speeds and a robust clutch. Most importantly, all this innovation was styled in a compact, sleek and streamlined package which could not be faulted. Its teardrop tanks, dash-mounted speedo and sleek fenders combined to create a picture we still hold of a modern motorcycle.

This first-year 1936 EL Knucklehead was restored by Ken Presson and judged a remarkable 99.75 at the Davenport AMCA meet (September of 1998 and 1999). It is as close to a perfect Knucklehead as is possible, and was featured in three David Uhl paintings: “Rose,” “The Real Thing,” and “The Art of the Motorcycle”–how appropriate!

Arrangements to purchase this vehicle can be made directly by contacting Mecum representative Rob Williams by phone or text at (262) 236-7705 or by email at rwilliams@mecum.com.