Tag Archives: Harley-Davidson

Servicar Service at a Union Oil Gas Station, Los Angeles, California, c.1932

This spiffy Harley-Davidson Servi-Car looks like it was brand new when it was photographed at the Union Oil service station at 4004 Wilshire Boulevard in 1932. A memo issued by H-D on November 9, 1931 describes their new model as “intended primarily for the use by garages and service stations in the pickup and delivery of customer’s cars”, and that appears to be what is going on here. The tube frame work on the front wheel was connected to a quickly detachable hitch that allowed the trike to be towed, as you can see in one of our earlier posts.

The market for them slowly dried up as time went by and fewer service stations and car dealers offered pickup and delivery of customer’s cars. The wild deco design on the gas tank may very well be a factory paint scheme, as the company used this type of layout at the time on certain models. Take a look at the Steve McQeen 1931 H-D VL, which shares a similar graphic configuration. You can find out much more about these rare machines at the D45 Homepage and see many more service station posts on The Old Motor. Photo by Dick Whittington Studios courtesy of the Huntington Library.

Posted in Gasoline stations, Motorcycle photos | Tagged , , , , |

The Royale Treatment and an Early Harley-Davidson Servi-Car

The lucky owner of this impressive Reo Royale was the recipient of the kind of service that we can only imagine today. This 1931 photograph appears to depict the return of the big sedan from a service appointment to the owner’s substantial Pasadena home, dubbed “Villa Alegre” or “joyous country house”. Indeed, we think that both the car and the house are two very good reasons for the man who owned them to be quite happy. Near as we can tell, the rider and the Harley-Davidson Servi-Car on the tow bar come from a Reo dealership on Fair Oaks Avenue, also in Pasadena. Route 66 passes along a section of Fair Oaks Avenue as it heads toward South Pasadena.


Back in those days, it was not uncommon for an automobile agency to pick up a busy customer’s car at his home or business and return it when they had completed the work. To do this, employees would run out to where the car was located on a trike, hook on to the car (in this case with a clamp-on bumper hitch) and drive back to the shop with the motorcycle in tow. The process was reversed for delivery. Newly purchased cars were also sometimes delivered to a customer in a similar manner. Below are a few pages from a 1932 Servi-Car brochure which describe this intended use in more detail and shows towing equipment somewhat different from the set up in our photos.


Most Servi-Cars were powered by the Harley 45 cubic inch V-twin, but this one appears to have one of the H-D 30.5 cubic inch single cylinder powerplants installed. Our research also tells us that the Servi-Car debuted in 1932, yet this one carries a 1931 tag leading us to believe that it was a very early model. We invite our readers to tell us what they might know about this smaller engine and it’s use in the Harley utility vehicle.

Photographs courtesy of the Huntington Library. Servi-Car brochure pages courtesy of DM45Homepage.com

Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Garages and Dealerships, Motorcycle photos | Tagged , , , , , , |

The Southern California Edison Los Angeles Night Gang

The hundredth anniversary of this photo made by Bishop G. Haven will soon be upon us. On June 6, 1913, the Night Gang of the Trouble Department of the Edison Electric Company took a moment to pose for the camera with their diverse group of service vehicles. In the background we see a rare Alco truckand a Pope-Hartford equipped with a large spotlight. The two motorcycles out front are a Flying Merkel on the left with a Harley-Davidson on the right. We suspect that the big spotlight was used to locate problems in overhead wires and leads us to think that the Pope may have been equipped with an electric starter and a generator.


Also visible at the extreme left in the first thumbnail (above) is a ladder mounted on the back of the Pope. The rear of the body of the car may have been removed or it could be a roadster with a service bed added onto the back. While we are quite confident of the make of the “ladder car”, we are not entirely sure of it’s year of manufacture and invite our readers to offer opinions on that point.

In the late 1880′s several small independent electric companies were working to bring power to Southern California. By 1897, the West Side Lighting Company and Los Angeles Electric Company had merged to form the Edison Electric Company of Los Angeles, which would go on to acquire other local companies and eventually become an international conglomerate. It was already well established and growing rapidly with the city of Los Angeles by the time that this photo was taken. Photo courtesy of The Huntington Library.

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Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Motorcycle photos, Trucks, Buses and Equipment | Tagged , , , , , , |