’58 Harley Davidson Servicar
Every year around this time, motorcyclists start thinking about winter bike projects. Some are just planning basic services, others maybe a full rebuild. You might be thinking about adding a few horsepower to your ride or maybe a new paint job. One of your friends bought a basket case Triumph that he told his wife, who thinks it’s nothing more than a pile of junk, that when he’s done, that pile of junk is going to be a classic worth thousands of dollars (who amongst us hasn’t done that?). Another friend is stripping down a perfectly good BMW R60 to make a cafe racer out of it, and worst of all, your best friends girlfriend is chopping a 1971 Kawasaki Mach 1 two stroke…a scary thought. You can’t just be one of the crowd, you need a winter project that is different, unique…a project that only you would do. You my friend need a Harley Davidson Servicar, better known as a meter maid mobile.
We’ve all seen Servicar’s, usually with a law enforcement type writing parking tickets aboard, but we don’t really know that much about this great piece of motorized Americana. Did you know the Harley Davidson Servicar was built from 1932 clear up until 1973?! with almost no changes!? It’s true. The Servicar was original designed for the automobile service industry. When a car was being delivered after service, the garage would hook a Servicar up to the back so the driver could ride back to the garage. One very interesting little design feature was that the rear wheels were spaced apart same as cars of the era so the rider would be able to ride in the same ruts that cars had made in the dirt roads of the time…cool huh? The Servicar used the same series ‘W’ flathead motor from 1937 to the end in 1973 even though the rest of Harley Davidson’s solo line switched to the ‘K’ motor in 1952. That makes the ‘W’ motor the longest running motor in the Motor Company’s history. I mentioned earlier that the Servicar went all those years with very few changes, the three biggest changes were, drum brakes on all three wheels in 1937, hydraulic brakes in 1951 and disc brakes in the last model year 1973. That’s pretty much it. I think the front suspension got changed once or twice too. In 1932 a Servicar would set you back $430.00 in 1969 it had jumped to $2065.00, today a ‘project’ Servicar is around $5000 to start. It’s a pricey winter project but you’ll be the only of your friends to have one!
I found a couple of Harley Servicar’s on ebay, I think they are being sold by the same person, if not, they are in the same town. One looked like more of a project than the other, and me being lazy when it comes to projects, I thought the easier one was a better choice. This is a 1958 model with only 4606 miles on it (that’s stopping at a lot of parking meters…) and was a runner when it was parked some years ago. At first look, it seems that all it would need to be a rider is to take it apart some, clean it up, polish some bits here and there, a fresh paint job, do the obvious mechanicals…carb rebuild, check over the electrics, three new tires and you’re ready to writing parking tickets.
Not so fast there pardner, we all know what happens with project bikes don’t we? One thing leads to another. You start repairing one part and you find another that needs some attention, then another, and another, the hole you’re digging just gets deeper and deeper. Your wife walks out into the garage and gives you the ‘I told you so’ look, your friends come over to share a beer with you and also get a good chuckle at your expense. You persevere on because you know that when you’re done you have a piece of American history.
Ok, a project doesn’t always go like that and this bike looks like it’s going to be a lot easier than all that…maybe, but no matter how much love you do put into it, it will be worth it. Especially when you stick a vehicle violation ticket on your best friends girlfriends chopped Kawasaki.
’58 Harley Davidson ServicarClick on the pics for more about this really unique Harley Davidson.