October 15, 2010

1930 Henderson custom

Every few months, a bike comes along that completely stops me in my tracks. Like this one: an Art Deco-influenced machine that could have come straight from the pen of Harley Earl. The bike caused a stir last month when it appeared at the Rhinebeck Grand National Meet, a popular motorcycle show held a couple of hours drive north of NYC. Word started to spread. And with the help of a few Bike EXIF readers, we’ve tracked down the details—and got some shots thanks to Grail Mortillaro of the excellent grassroots chopper blog Knucklebuster.


The machine is apparently based on a 1930 Henderson—presumably the 100 mph (160 km/h) Streamline model—and was built in 1936 by a gent called O. Ray Courtney. Today the bike is owned by Frank Westfall of Syracuse, a motorcycle collector and local identity, who was seen happily riding this extraordinary motorcycle around the showgrounds. According Mortillaro, “The craftsmanship is absolutely stunning and it’s surely more of a museum piece than a daily rider. Frank has obviously spent an incredible amount of time meticulously restoring and rebuilding the bike to its current gorgeous state.”


As a marque, Henderson is unfortunately consigned to the annals of history, despite a short-lived attempt to revive the name in the late 90s. But until its demise in 1931, the Excelsior Motor Mfg. & Supply Co.—the owner of the Henderson brand—was one of the ‘Big Three’ American motorcycle manufacturers, along with Harley-Davidson and Indian. There must be more remarkable Henderson customs out there—if you know of any, drop us a line.


[First four images by kind permission of Grail Mortillaro, © Knucklebuster. Final image located by Pete Plassmann. Thanks also to Bill Tikos, Benjie Flipperboi, Scott Ruffalo and Twitter denizens Fuzzygalore and qcmw.]


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