Tag Archives: Harley-Davidson
Much of the credit for the large number of English cars in British Columbia after the Second World War goes directly to the man behind the wheel of the spiffy little roadster in our photo today. Fred Deeley, Sr. started selling Harley-Davidsons in 1917 in Vancouver and branched out into cars in the 1920′s. He expanded in the postwar period to include Morris, MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey and Jaguar and eventually acquired the lion’s share of the foreign car market in Western Canada.
We think he’s driving an Austin 7 Ruby but invite those of you who are more familiar with these cars to offer an opinion about it. Deeley Harley-Davidson is still going strong today, making it one of the oldest continually operating H-D dealerships in the world. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for most of those British makers. Fred Sr.’s grandson Trevor operates a well-known museum that houses his collection of over 250 classic bikes from various manufacturers. Our photo dating from 1935 by Stuart Thompson courtesy of the City of Vancouver archives.
In the milder climate of coastal British Columbia, motorcycles, whether for personal or commercial use, are a much more sensible form of transport than they might be in other parts of Canada. The well-worn veteran of the traffic wars you see in our photo from April 29, 1932 clearly falls into the latter category.
The unusual dual headlight arrangement makes identification of the motorcycle’s vintage relatively easy. Among Harley-Davidsons, it was unique to the 1929 and 1930 models. The strictly utilitarian sidecar body, one of the more elaborate ones we’ve seen, presents more of a challenge. We invite any of our readers who might know to offer an opinion about who built it. Photograph attributed to Stuart Thomson courtesy of the City of Vancouver. You can find many more interesting images shot in that city here on The Old Motor.
Although his elder half-brother Sydney had achieved more success on stage in their native England in the dawning years of the 20th century, by 1919, “The Little Tramp”, Charlie Chaplin, was firmly established as America’s first superstar moving picture comic. Syd had forsaken acting to handle his business affairs and was able to obtain Charlie’s first million dollar contract in early 1916. But in her book, “Syd Chaplin: A Biography” published in 2010, Lisa K. Stein quotes him as saying “I was always extremely interested in aviation; from it’s earliest inception I have collected newspaper cuttings”. Charlie’s enormous success enabled him to pursue his passion.
He formed the Syd Chaplin Air Line in partnership with Emory Rogers, a World War I veteran pilot and began regular flights between Santa Monica and William Wrigley’s Catalina Island on July 12, 1919. At the time, he was also leasing “the largest flying-field in California” and called it the Chaplin Airdrome. It is there where we believe our two photos were taken.
It appears that the car was equipped with a Harley Davidson engine and transmission but beyond that, we have no information about it’s builder or mechanical specifications. We invite you to share anything you might know about it, Billy Rahn or the the driver seen above. You’ll find an earlier post about some similar tiny specials on The Old Motor. Photos courtesy of The San Diego Air & Space Museum.