The King’s Stallion: Elvis’ Last Harley-Davidson

The King’s Stallion: Elvis’ Last Harley-Davidson

Elvis Presley is famous for his revolutionizing of pop music, his outrageously swinging hips—and his motorcycles. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s love for two-wheeled rides is well-documented in both photographs and the musical sensation’s own words.

In particular, Elvis seemed to prefer Harley-Davidsons. One of those bikes, with a title to prove its authenticity, recently went up for auction.

And it wasn’t just any motorcycle. The 1976 Harley-Davidson FLH Bicentennial was the last H-D—and the last bike—the King ever bought.

The FLH was offered for sale on May 20 at the Indy ‘23 Mecum auction. However, it didn’t find a new home.

That’s not necessarily all that surprising, though. This legendary bike is in the race to potentially become the world’s most expensive motorcycle when it finally finds the right buyer.

Let’s take a closer look at Elvis, his penchant for motorcycles, and—of course—the last bike the King bought.

The King’s Stallion: Elvis’ Last Harley-Davidson

Bookends in the Shape of a Harley-Davidson

It’s no secret that Elvis developed a taste for the finer things after his rise to stardom. Perhaps he can be forgiven for that, considering the poverty he spent his youth in. The King enjoyed the best in everything, from homes to cars and, of course, motorcycles.

Yet, his enthusiasm for two wheels seems to have always been there. Case in point, he used some of the money from his first record deal in 1955 to buy a Harley-Davidson Model 165 ST.

There’s no telling how many motorcycles Elvis bought, owned, and sold over his life. Although his stable was extensive and covered many brands, his bike purchases ended like they began—with a Harley-Davidson.

We know Elvis bought the 1976 FLH on August 11, 1976. It was registered to his home at 845 Chino Canyon Rd in Palm Springs, CA. The odometer on the bike reads 1,262 miles, but according to estimates, only around 126 of those miles were put on by the King himself.

Indeed, Elvis didn’t get to enjoy his FLH for long. In mid-1977, he sold the motorcycle to a local California H-D dealer.

Only three months later, Elvis left the building forever.

After Elvis’ death, the dealer sold the bike to a hotel owner in Wildwood, NJ, for display as a promotional piece. In 1983, the FLH found its way to the Pioneer Museum in Murdo, SD, where it remained a key part of the museum’s collection for more than 30 years.

In 2019, the motorcycle went under the gavel for the first time. It sold for $800,000, making it the third most expensive bike ever sold at the time. Even today, the bike is still in the top five of pricey rides.

And so, we get to May 20, 2023. The FLH was again up for sale, but no bidder rose to the occasion to make a high enough offer.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, though. That means there may be another chance for Elvis and motorcycle enthusiasts to bid on the FLH soon enough.

A Royal Ride

So, what kind of a motorcycle did Elvis buy for his last?

Putting aside the fact that the King owned it, the FLH is a rarity in itself. Harley-Davidson ever built 750 of these limited-edition motorcycles.

Propelling the bike’s 717-pound mass forward is an air-cooled four-stroke 1207cc engine, with four-speed manual transmission. The powerplant has a blacked-out finish (although it has slightly faded over the years).

Other details include full-coverage fenders, lace-spoked wheels, locking hard saddlebags, and a rear luggage rack. The bike has a spring-mounted solo seat for riding comfort — although a modern rider might disagree with that.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Elvis’ FLH is the custom paint scheme the King ordered for the bike. The black-and-blue (or aquamarine, really) colorway extends from the fenders to the fuel tank and the saddlebags.

Together with the (once) white stripes on the wheels, the paint gives the motorcycle an unmistakably ‘70s appearance. We’ll leave it up to your personal tastes whether it looks classic or tacky.

Yet, there’s one more astounding thing about the bike—you could take it to the street. With few miles on the odo, the bike is in fantastic condition for its age and most likely would run with minimal maintenance.

But, there’s a catch. The FLH is still registered in Elvis’ name and comes with the original title document bearing the King’s signature (along with his misspelled middle name). To legally take it onto the road, you’d have to re-register it, which would mean giving up that historical document.

Perhaps this motorcycle should remain as a museum piece, after all.

The King’s Stallion: Elvis’ Last Harley-Davidson

Asking for a Kingly Sum

As I mentioned, Elvis’ FLH failed to reach the reserve price at the Indy ‘23 Mecum auction. But, as I also mentioned, that’s not awfully surprising.

After all, this may become the world’s most expensive motorcycle.

When the bike first sold in 2019, it went for $800,000, which puts it almost at $950,000 today when accounting for inflation. At the time of the sale, that made the FLH the third most valuable bike in the world.

That top list has since changed a bit. For example, the most expensive motorcycle in the world is currently a 1908 Harley-Davidson Start Tank, which sold for $935,000 just in January of this year.

Nonetheless, the King’s ride is still in the top 5. Naturally, its current owner wants to turn a profit on the bike, so we can safely assume that once it sells, it will fetch more than $800,000.

Will it break the record and become the #1 most valuable bike on the planet? Will it become the first motorcycle to sell for more than $1 million?

It’s a real possibility if the right buyer shows up. Yet, that’s a lot of money and we may have to wait a while for someone to cough up the dough.

The good news is that the bike remains up for grabs. If you have a million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, this could be your chance to own an extraordinary piece of music, celebrity, and motorcycling history.