Tag Archives: Motorcycle

Dapper Dan, the Studebaker Motorcycle Service Man

Dapper Dan the motorcycle-mounted service man was the good will ambassador for Franciscan Motors, which sold and serviced the Studebaker and Erskine. The firm was located at 608-610 West Central Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The motorcycle was the vehicle of choice from many dealerships back in the period for road service because of its lower cost, good gas mileage and visibility of signage when equipped with a sidecar or service box.

The Indian with its distinctive quarter elliptic sprung fork, appears to be the smaller Scout model, first introduced in 1920 with a 37 c.i. engine, that was finally enlarged to a 45 c.i. in 1927. The service box mounted on the sidecar chassis appears to have been constructed of wood, possibly locally.

Dapper Dan is attired with the typical motorcycling gear of the time; gauntlets to protect his hands and wrists, leg spats to protect his shins and he is wearing a jaunty looking cap and jacket with a Studebaker patch proudly sewn on his left shoulder.

These excellent photos are courtesy of the University of New Mexico and were originally made by the Brooks Studio, one of Albuquerque’s best commercial photographic companies at the time. Stop by The Old Motor tomorrow to learn more and see photos of the Franciscan Motors Studebaker Agency taken during 1927.

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A 1934 Henderson KJ Streamline Dream

The brainchild of Orley Ray Courtney, the unique style of this dramatic piece of rolling sculpture cannot be denied. A lifelong devotee of two-wheeled transport from his teen years on, Courtney made his living shaping sheet metal, first for McFarlan and Duesenberg in Indiana and later with Oldsmobile.

His concept for this bike arose out of his belief that the motorcycle manufacturers of the day over-valued speed and high performance to the detriment of real world riders’ need for comfort and protection from the weather. He brought his considerable skills to bear making that dream real in the smoothly flowing lines and complex compound curves of this remarkable bike.


And while his idea failed to significantly influence the future direction of motorcycle design, Courtney never abandoned that dream, producing another streamliner almost 20 years later that made the cover of the March, 1953 issue of Popular Science magazine. Unlike his earlier machine, the Enterprise was powered by a V-twin from an Indian Scout instead of a Henderson inline four. And while the sheet metal enclosing the inner workings might not seem as elegant as the 1934 model, the frame was entirely handmade.


Both of these one-of-a-kind motorcycles currently reside in the collection of Frank Westfall. While the Enterprise remains in original state, the Henderson was the subject of an extensive restoration performed by Pat Murphy.

You can read much more about many Orley Courtney’s unconventional machines in Ed Youngblood’s excellent article on his Motohistory site (scroll down). The color photos seen here are courtesy of the The Antique Motorcycle Club of America , which is currently celebrating it’s 59th year as an organization dedicated to the preservation and celebration of two-wheeled transportation. This Henderson KJ will be displayed at an exhibition called: Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles at The Frist Center in Nashvile, TN. starting on June 14, 2013.

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Saint Louis Motordrome Racing

This is our third in a series of photos showing the track, riders and machines that “Rode The Boards” in St. Louis.

This appears to be John B. Hoefeler with his Excelsior Auto-Cycle. The other rider with the No Tsu Oh Oil Jersey is unidentified.

Note the total lack of front or rear suspension and brakes. Without brakes, the only way to slow down was to hit the kill button and use the engine compression as a brake. The machines were direct drive without a clutch, just a chain from the engine sprocket to the rear wheel (all of the bikes in these photos have had the chains taken off for ease of moving).

This photo gives us a good view of the pine 2 x 4 track surface that became quite rough with the passage of time and weather. You can see Hoefeler’s cushion strapped to the gas and oil tanks to keep him from banging his chest on the top frame tube. Photo by J. R. Eike, courtesy of the Thomas Kempland Collection. 

Below is a modern video filmed in Germany of an event that is held on what appears to be a bicycle racing track, even though it is different, it still gives you a feel for what track racing it was like.

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