Vintage and Celebrity Motorcycles at the Reagan Library

Dec 20, 2011 View Comments by

Born To Be Wild

A significant exhibit of motorcycles recently ended at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Dozens of bikes from 1899 to the present, including some rare models, were on display in the library’s Air Force One pavilion. Included were a 1903 Harley-Davidson replica; 1913 Californian; 1922 Ner-A-Car; 1948 Indian (Floyd Emde’s bike from the Daytona 200); 1959 Cushman Eagle; 1970 Ner-A-Car Speedway; 1979 Honda CBX; 2000 custom Harley chopper; and a 2008 MV Agusta.

Among the celebrity-owned motorcycles on display were those from Steve McQueen, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Gurney, Keith Carradine, Don Emde and Joe Jonas. Also included were Harley from Terminator 2; Alicia Silverstone’s and Chris O’Donnell’s bikes from Batman and Robin; Adam Sandler’s space bike from Bedtime Stories; and Chris Pane’s Iowa State Police hoverbike from the 2009 movie Star Trek. Crowd favorites seemed to include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Harley from Terminator 2; the Indian that Anthony Hopkins rode in The World’s Fastest Indian; the odd twin-engine cycle from Will Smith’s Wild Wild West; and a company motorcycle and sidecar from Jelly Belly, which was Reagan’s favorite candy.

Karen Davidson, the granddaughter of Harley-Davidson co-founder William A. Davidson, led hundreds of motorcyclists as grand marshal of a Ride & VIP Party on Oct. 17 to celebrate the final weeks of the exhibit. Officials from five Harley-Davidson dealerships in Southern California organized the event, and group rides left from each dealership. The party was limited to 500 guests and many celebrities, government officials, and other VIPs attended. Guests were treated to a buffet, concert, raffle prizes, stage ceremony and more.

The exhibit honored Reagan’s role in preserving the American motorcycle industry. Reagan imposed a temporary tariff on Japanese motorcycles in 1983 that helped Harley-Davidson survive and prosper. Schwarzenegger said, “I don’t know if most people know, but it was President Reagan that really helped Harley-Davidson to get back on its feet. And Harley-Davidson came back like gangbusters and became now one of the top motorcycle companies in the world, all because of Ronald Reagan.”

One of the docents said the exhibit attracted a lot of motorcyclists to the library, especially on weekends. Having such an event at an esteemed venue is a win-win for everyone, as it serves to showcase America’s rich motorcycle heritage while enhancing the public perception of motorcycling. Many thanks to the collectors who loaned their rare machines, making this show a success. The Ronald Reagan Library is near Los Angeles in Simi Valley, CA. For more information, visit

Tags: , Categories: Destinations, Motorcycles