Viva Knievel bike auction

16th December 2015


Evel Knievel | Harley-Davidson | XL1000


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Viva Knievel poster

One of the 1976 Harley-Davidson XL1000s ridden by Evel Knievel in the 1977 movie Viva Knievel is to be auctioned on Thursday 7th January 2016 at Bonhams Las Vegas Sale at Bally's Hotel and Casino on The Strip.


Evel Knievel starred (as himself) in this classic Warner Brothers "B" movie playing a man tangling with a Mexican drugs gang. The plot was totally unimaginative. The dialogue was at times laughable. The action was ... well, predictable. But the movie also (and perversely) starred Gene Kelly, Lauren Hutton and Red Buttons.


The bike (Lot 140) was customised by none other than Bud Ekins. After the film, Warner Brothers sold the XL to Harley-Davidson dealer, Dick Hutchins. And Hutchins kept the bike as a display piece until very recently when it readied for sale.


Evel Knievel

If the motorcycle looks like one of Knievel's 750cc jump bikes, look again. It's actually a run-of-the-mill 1000cc Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster visually dressed-up for the role.


And it's not the only bike that was used. An unspecified number of Sportsters were sent by Harley-Davidson and converted by Ekins.


Nevertheless, this machine is viewed as a credible and serious piece of motorcycle history and movie memorabilia, and the late Evel Knievel still commands a huge fan base in the USA. Consequently, Bonhams has attached an estimate of $80,000 - $100,000 (53,000 - 67,000).


Now does that sound right to you? Or is this yet another great and unlikely leap into the Evel Knievel legend? We'll find out in a few weeks.


Meanwhile, look out for Lot 121, Steve McQueen's 1963 Triumph Bonneville "Desert Sled" which was also modified by Bud Ekins, and painted by Kustom Kulture king Kenny "Von Dutch" Howard.


The estimate for McQueen's bike is $50,000 - $60,000 (33,000 - 40,000).





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