All Americans know about John Pershing (1860-1948), the only person in the history of the United States who was authorized during his lifetime to wear six stars with the rank of General Of The Armies. From his role in suppressing the last uprisings of the Lakota Sioux Indians in 1890 to his military accomplishments during WWI to being the mentor of US Generals during WWII, his military successes and his memoirs (“My Experience in the World War”, 1932 Pulitzer Prize for History) made him an American legend. In January 1914, Pershing was assigned to command the Army 8th Cavalry Regiment in Fort Bliss, Texas to enforce security along the U.S.-Mexico border. He led his Regiment on the failed 1916–17 Punitive Expedition into Mexico in search of its revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. And the interesting part for us is that during this long expedition, John Pershing was riding a Harley sidecar.
Mike Hanlon of Timeless Motor Company (and co-founder with brother Tim of MeanStreet Products, a leader in after-market front ends) was in charge of restoring this early 1915-1916 Harley-Davidson military issue motorcycle now owned by the New Mexico Military Institute in Rosswell New Mexico. A great honor for Mike who always had a fascination for vintage motorcycles (particularly the 1910’s Harley-Davidson models), avidly collecting and restorig them since many years, and also build more affordable replicas at his Timeless Motor Co.
This sidecar was the first time a Harley was used in a military application. Library of Congress photos from that era show such Army motorbikes with machine-gunners riding in the sidecars. Pershing reportedly liked the motorcycle’s agility, ease of use and durability.
When the New Mexico Military Institute Museum was renovated, the bike ended up in pieces in a vault in storage. “It was nothing but a pile of rusty metal when it was brought to me. Luckily, the bike had been stored indoors. It was rusted but not ruined,” says Mike Hanlon. “It was surface rust, and everything was cracked, so it needed a lot of mending. There were a lot of pieces missing off the motor, and the gas tank disappeared, so we had to piece the whole bike together.” It has taken close to a year for Mike and crew to restore the bike, and all work was done in-house. Everything you see in the pictures is original except for the gas tank, the seat that has to be replaced because the original was destroyed, the exhaust pipe and the tires. I know many in the industry who are going to be envious of Mike having been selected to restore such a piece of history used in the country side in defense of the United States Of America. At least we can all admire it in a few weeks at The New Mexico Military Institute of Rosswell NM.
And for those who love vintage motorcycles but cannot afford one, I remind you that Timeless Motor Company is building functional original Harley-Davidson replicas for an average price running from $9,000 to $11,000 for each model. For reason of liability they cannot legally be ridden in the streets although they can run up to 45 miles per hour. Maybe some fast runs in a parade or riding it to a bike show …(refer to legislation about one in a lifetime custom motorcycle.) Photography Timeless And Rudy Gutierrez