Amelia Island

10 March 2012

Previous Next

Lot 109

1941 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead

  • Frame no. 41EL1569

Sold for $34,100

40 hp, 61 cu. in. OHV engine, four-speed hand-shifted transmission.

• Professionally restored, correct example of one of the most revered Harleys

Launched in 1936, the stylish new EL, quickly known as the “Knucklehead,” set new standards for Harley-Davidson and was an instant success that remained in production for 12 years. Considered the first “modern” Harley-Davidson, it is a milestone machine on which all following Harleys were based. More than 70 years later, it continues to reign as perhaps America’s most beloved Big Twin.

Technically, the big change was the switch from the F-head to overhead valves. An improvement over the two- and four-shaft flathead motors, the single camshaft powered the EL to 100 mph and beyond. The resulting shape of the new motor’s handsomely polished rocker covers evoked the model’s enduring nickname, and a new re-circulating oil system replaced the previous “total loss” set-up.

New from the bottom up, the EL’s double-downtube frame required was beefed up to handle the power increase. Up front, both form and function improved with a more streamlined and stylish use of oval-tube struts. Sleek, welded fuel tanks (with Art Deco logos) and a tank-mounted instrument cluster set a new stylistic benchmark. The overall look of the bike was further enhanced by a lower 26-inch seat height. With clean, unbroken lines from nose to tail, the EL was acclaimed by riders of the day as the “best damn looking motorcycle they had ever seen.”

This example was professionally restored with painstaking attention to detail, and we understand it is correct down to the nuts and bolts. Desirable period-correct features include "Superior" twin exhaust and Flanders bars and risers. Finished in Skyway Blue, it is an extraordinary example of an early EL Knucklehead and has covered just over 700 miles since completion of its restoration.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more