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A Panhead Story

Published on 11/4/2014

Tom Warner is the proud owner of a 1959 Harley-Davidson FL Panhead with sidecar that he bought 2009. And he recently traced the history of the machine, creating a photo story of its heritage.

Tom says he bought the bike from its second owner, Carl Sayers, who gave him a lead on the original owner, Harry Wilcox Jr., the man Carl had purchased the bike from in 1969. Warner was able to track down Ellen Wilcox, who said she and Harry sold the bike after their 5-year-old boy passed away from cancer.

Ellen told Tom that the dealer, Jim Ransom of Stamford, Connecticut, had taken a photo of Harry and her, plus their young daughter, posing on the brand-new machine in front of the dealership in 1959. But she said she had no idea what became of the photo. Tom found the answer when he located the last issue he needed to have a full collection of Harley’s Enthusiast publication for 1959, the year his bike was new. The magazine search took him two full years, but when he got the August edition, he discovered a surprise on the last page. There was Harry Wilcox and family with the machine.

Tom shared the image with Ellen, who remembered the day fondly, even recalling that the dealer had placed a case of oil in the sidecar so their daughter’s head would be visible over the windshield.

The communication fostered a friendship between Tom and the bike’s original owners, and they eventually traveled to his home in New Jersey to be reunited with their old machine, as Tom was nearing the end of a full restoration. Harry passed away on February 25, 2012, and Tom is pleased to maintain the bike as a tribute to him.

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P.O. Box 663, HUNTSVILLE, AL 35804