A VINTAGE BEAUTY
With pace of the world being ridiculously fast—stupid even—every so often it’s nice to take a minute, relax, and take a look back to appreciate all that has come before. Of course the classic look of the ‘50s is one that just doesn’t get old.
Randall Nelson’s 1957 FLH Hydra-Glide is an unvarnished look right back to ’57. This rolling time capsule is absolutely an original stock motorcycle, down to the cloth-wrapped wiring. The bike still features a six-volt, generator system, as well as original footboards, hand controls and all the other little things that often fall away over the years. Nelson took ownership of this road beauty about five years ago, and he wasted little time making sure she was road-worthy and putting some miles underneath her.
The Hydra-Glide first hit the streets in 1949, after Harley realized that European bikes with hydraulic suspensions were on the way across the Atlantic. The styling reflects the trend of the ‘50s to hide the mechanical workings of vehicles, and lots of other machines. But the enclosed, contemporary-looking Hydra-Glide fork served another purpose; with two hydraulic and spring tubes, the more compliant suspension provided an exceptionally smooth ride. The 1957 FLH Hydra-Glide was the last year Harley produced the bike with a rigid frame. After ’57, the FLH boasted rear shocks in addition to the front end, end the Duo-Glide was born.
In 1957 this beauty would have set you back around $1250. In return, you got a finely crafted motorcycle powered by a 74-inch Panhead motor with a chin-drive and four-speed transmission. The Panhead was Harley’s first true cruiser; built for comfort, not necessarily speed. It produced 55hp, and could be pushed to hit 100 mph, with the rubber-mounted handlebars hiding some of the vibration. But the Pan was happiest between 3500 and 4500 rpm, allowing riders to scoot along at a comfortable clip in the lap of two-wheeled luxury.
There were only 5600 of the FL series produced in 1957, making this one a little more special today.
As for our easy-on-the-eyes fender decoration, Angela, she’s the only one of her kind, which makes her pretty special, too. Add to that, she looks great on the FLH, and knows how to look good in 1957, too, and, well, it’s hard to beat this scene. When she’s not making motorcycles look good, Angela hangs out at Indie Six Salon, making other gals look beautiful.
And just so you know, this whole scene was made possible by Johnnie of Johnnie’s Auto Service center in Golden. He found and refurbished the gas pumps, and houses the business in a building that looks like it might be right out of the ‘50s.
Yep, it’s good to appreciate what the past has left us sometimes.