Barn Find ServiCar
Article by Roadside Marty
Photos by Chris Callen
Originally published August 2019
I’ve got to be honest, up until about ten years ago I never really paid much attention to Servi Cars. I always thought they were too slow, or they didn’t look cool enough, unless someone tried to make a chopper trike out of them with Cragar mags and a custom box or something along those lines. But now when I see a fine piece of Milwaukee history like this, I definitely take notice! This particular beauty belongs to Keith Harman from Harrisburg, PA, and he’s just as proud of this as he would be a brand-new bike.
Keith started riding in 1967 on a ‘62 Triumph Bonneville, which was followed a few years later by a Norton 750 Commando. Both were great bikes, but he knew it was only a matter of time before he moved up to a Harley. A friend of his happened to be chasing down a lead in Hershey, PA when he came across this beauty as a complete basket case. Now, with most basket case bikes you’re gonna be missing quite a few pieces but fortunately this one wasn’t the case. The last time this bike had been inspected was June of 66, and as a cool bit of history, the inspection sticker is still on the box.
The trike was originally purchased new by E.O. Miller Chevrolet and Oldsmobile in Campbelltown, PA in April of 1948 for use in their service department. You may be wondering why a Chevy dealership would need a trike, well, these particular models were sold by the Motor Company from 1932 to 1973 in a variety of configurations for just as many purposes. This particular model is designated a 47 G model which means it came equipped with a small box and a tow bar as well as the large 60 AH battery from the Factory. The tow bar is that piece standing upright on the front end, as you can imagine, this is an extremely rare piece. Most of these models were bought by car dealerships so when a customer dropped their car at the dealer to have it serviced the mechanic could return the vehicle and a have a ride back to work because they used the tow bar to haul the trike behind the customers car. I’m pretty sure most of the guy’s didn’t mind making deliveries like that! They were also largely used by police departments for parking enforcement, as well as parade duty, due to their low gearing. Some departments were still actively using them into the nineties. Two more things that most people don’t know about these models is that the springer front ends were used all the way to 1957 with the 58 models using the by now proven Hydra Glide forks and that the 1964 models were equipped with electric start, therefore, preceding the 65 Panhead as the first electric start Harley.
Once Keith had the trike in his possession, he got with his friend Tom Keefer, who owns Franklin Church Choppers in Dillsburg PA, to start piecing this time machine back together. As it was, some things couldn’t be salvaged, but others could. The motor was already complete and only needed a front head gasket. The transmission was slipped into place with no problems, and the wheels were good, except for the front, which is a repop that doesn’t look too bad according to Keith. Thanks to a few hungry rodents and some harsh Pennsylvania winters the original cloth wiring harness was too far gone, so a new repop one was put into place.
The sheet metal is absolute gold as it has the original paint and tank decals as well as the script on the fender skirts, which were a $3.90 factory option. Another neat piece of history that came with the purchase of this bike was the original invoice, which documented the original purchase price of $511.00.
Harman did update the tires to new Firestone replacements, which was a great idea because this trike is ridden regularly and runs just as good as it looks. One of my favorite accessories on here is the OEM fire extinguisher, it’s the small brass piece on the rear box directly behind the rider, and yes that’s an original Harley-Davidson piece. If you ever get a chance to see this in person do yourself a favor and take a good look at a fine time capsule from a part of Harley’s heyday. Keith wanted to thank two of his employees Don Rexrode and Jim Walborn for all of their help as well. Thanks for sharing this with us, Keith!