Easy Rider Motorcycle Going up for Auction

“Captain America” bike became symbol of ‘60s counterculture.

by on Sep.17, 2014

Captain America and his friend, Billy, set out to discover America in the '60s cult film, "Easy Rider."

Want to own one of the most familiar symbols of the ’60s counterculture? You’ll soon be able to place your bid for the customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by Peter Fonda in the cult film “Easy Rider.”

With its stars-and-stripes paint theme, the Captain America chopper is expected to generate as much as $1.2 million when it’s sold by the Profiles in History auction house on Oct. 18, according to a report by the Associated Press.

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The panhead chopper with chromed hardtail frame is currently owned by Michael Eisenberg, a businessman who once owned a motorcycle-themed Los Angeles restaurant, partnering with “Easy Rider” stars Fonda and Dennis Hopper. He purchased the bike only a year ago from actor Dan Haggerty who was given it after working on the iconic movie.

The decision to sell the Captain American motorcycle was like watching “a child finally getting married and moving away and starting a new life on their own,” said Haggerty, today best known for his role in the TV show “Grizzly Adams.” But when the movie was shot in 1969, Adams worked behind the scenes helping keep the film’s various motorcycles running smoothly.

The Captain America bike going up for auction is actually one of four motorcycles used in the film, and the only one today known to have survived. Three were stolen, according to Haggerty, even before the film’s release. It was the one featured in the climactic scene where Fonda’s and Hopper’s characters, Wyatt and Billy, are confronted by rednecks and killed.

The low-budget movie had an outside influence on the counterculture movement of the ’60s and ’70s. The two, long-haired characters set out on a journey across country to experience a sense of personal freedom – sharing drugs and stories with the characters they meet along the way. Among them was a young Jack Nicholson, who played George Hanson, a hard-drinking lawyer looking for an escape from his daily routine. Nicholson earned his first Oscar nomination for the role.

Considered to be in mint condition, the bike is a classic chopper, its stars-and-stripes paint scheme influenced by Fonda.

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Haggerty rode the bike for a number of years. It was later put on display at the National Motorcycle Museum for a dozen years. The museum has provided one of three certificates of authenticity. Another comes from Fonda, the third from Haggerty.

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When the museum, based in Anamosa, Iowa, decided it no longer wanted the bike last year, Eisenberg bought it.  “I always wanted to own it,” he told AP. A fan of the movie, Eisenberg partnered into the Thunder Road West restaurant in West Hollywood until it burned down due to an electrical fire.

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Profiles in History is projecting a sale price of between $1 million and $1.2 million. The auction will be held jointly online and at the company’s galleries in Calabasas, California.

Declaring “the public needs to see it,” Eisnberg plans to donate a “significant amount” of his take to the American Humane Association. That is a charity that Fonda has long been associated with.

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