A 1974 Harley gets a 1947 makeover for 2008
With thousands of Harley riders and enthusiasts enjoying the 105th Anniversary festivities, there were a couple of local enthusiasts who really seemed to epitomize the spirit of Harley on this night.
Lifelong Milwaukeean Steve Peters and his nephew Ryan arrived at Juneau Avenue on a 1974 XLCH Sportster. While riding a bike of that era is unusual on its own, Peters’ retro customization, costume and attitude take it to another level.
Peters, a self-employed graphic designer specializing in vintage design, considers his Sportster as close as he can get to his dream bike of the famous 1936 EL. After buying the Sportster for $1,974 (get it?) in 1992, Peters decided to reverse a couple numbers and began turning back the clock to give it a 1947 look and feel.
Some of the “streamline” vintage design cues on Peters’ 1000 cc bike include 3-foot wide handlebars, small round mirrors, exhaust, sprung solo seat, leather saddlebags, vintage tank emblem, chrome speedlines, horn and toolkit. Mechanically, the bike uses a kick start with shift controls on the right side. Despite all that retrofitting, Peters estimates he rides the bike almost 1,000 miles a year and attends numerous events and bike shows, including all previous Harley anniversaries.
Peters’ bike was likely produced at the Harley-Davidson York, Pa. facility just after major production work shifted there from Juneau Avenue. However, since parts were still being made at Juneau Avenue at that time, it’s possible some of Peters’ Sportster was born at the historic Milwaukee location. Local dealers also enjoy helping with the restoration project when he needs vintage parts.
Dressing the part of an authentic dapper biker from the art deco era, Peters was sporting a vintage cap, pants, leggings and boots along with a brown button-down shirt and thin black tie.
The retro look and feel Peters brought to the Kick-Off event was appreciated by his 22-year-old nephew Ryan, who rode in with him and looks forward to riding someday.
Peters shares an appreciation for the design of that bygone era, including that of Milwaukee legend Brooks Stevens with Harley’s design guru Willie G. Davidson, who worked at Stevens before coming to Harley-Davidson in 1963. “I guess I was just born too late,” Peters concluded.