Harley Davidson Powered Cars – Four Wheel Cruisers with a Heart from Milwaukee

Harley Davidson powered street roadster dragster

Harley Davidson powered street roadster dragster

There have been a surprising number of Harley Davidson V-Twin powered cars put together over the years and we've covered quite a few on The Kneeslider. It didn't really strike me how many there were until I saw another example for sale and I started to think about it.

Harley street dragster

Harley street dragster

The latest one is this dragster style street rod for sale on eBay. I've never seen anything like this at the strip, but it looks pretty cool and I bet the owner gets a lot of looks on the street. It's powered by an 88 inch Twin Cam up front run though a Toyota gearbox and rear end and there's room for two on the motorcycle seat hidden within the bodywork. The owner says it's street legal and the headlights, taillights and plate seem to back that up. For a car as light as this thing probably is, I'm guessing the performance is pretty reasonable, maybe not real dragster performance, but it looks like a fun build and the appearance is authentic in every other way.

 

Harley Davidson Model T

Harley Davidson Model T

A few years ago this Model T with a Sportster engine showed up for sale. I thought it was pretty interesting. It used the Sportster's gearbox plus an electric reverse. I don't have any more information about it, but the owner's nephew did stop by in the comments who said the top speed was about 80 mph.

 

Hotrodhawg Harley Davidson powered assemble it yourself roadster

Hotrodhawg Harley Davidson powered assemble it yourself roadster

The HotRodHawg is a specialty car built and delivered to the customer as a roller chassis and body where you add the engine. It's a tube chassis with fiberglass roadster bodywork that runs the Harley's output through a 3 speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Not a bad looking little car.

 

Drake V-Twin powered midget racer driven by Bill Vukovitch Sr.

Drake V-Twin powered midget racer driven by Bill Vukovitch Sr.

This very cool little midget racer from back in the 1930s raced by Bill Vukovich Sr., was powered by the Drake V-Twin, which was a Harley Knucklehead with water jackets to get around the obvious cooling problems when an air cooled engine is hidden inside the bodywork. Nice.

 

Sundoulos Sportstar twin Harley powered sports car

Sundoulos Sportstar twin Harley powered sports car

Probably one of the sleekest setups was the Sundoulos Sportstar, a car that was originally designed for V8 power to race in the Grand-Am series until the rules changed on the builders and made the car obsolete before it was finished. The builder decided to salvage the effort and put together a pretty slick side by side V-Twin, two Harley engines mated together, but in an unusual 4 across tandem arrangement instead of in the quad 4 parallel setup you would expect. Gorgeous car, but a few years later they converted to Corvette LS-1 power, though I thought the twin Harley setup was an interesting outside the box concept.

 

Ace Cycle Car - Harley Davidson powered 3 wheeler in the Morgan style

Ace Cycle Car - Harley Davidson powered 3 wheeler in the Morgan style

Of course, the Ace Cycle Car, which eventually became the new Morgan 3 Wheeler, had a Harley V-Twin out front and it provides a rather sporty mount for weekend rides. Not a 4 wheeler, but very car like.

 

Q-Tec Harley Davidson quad kit

Q-Tec Harley Davidson quad kit

As long as we're talking 4 wheelers, it's probably a good time to remind you of the Harley quads, one homebuilt as an ATV and the really sweet looking kits from Q-Tec Engineering in Belgium to convert your Sportster or Softail to a 4 wheeler. They look extremely well done and if you could license them in the US for road use, I bet they would sell quite a few.

You know, if the engine works that well in all of these cars, you might think you could even put one in an airplane, ... oh, wait, they're doing that, too..

Like I said, I hadn't given the Harley car idea much thought for a while and when I saw another one I realized they weren't as uncommon you might think. If you watched any of the videos of the new Morgan 3 wheeler, powered by an S&S V-Twin, especially the one with Jay Leno bombing down an English country road, it's apparent these V-Twins, that lots of guys like to say are low powered slugs, are actually very competent power plants, more than capable of a really satisfying and fun experience on four wheels as well as two. Neat stuff.

Comments

  1. akaacount says

    I must admit, I love the Model T. The rat rod scene is a world all its own and if they can have fun with old flathead V8′s, why not a similarly obsolete, but still readily available engine with unmistakable looks and sound? Thumbs up.

  2. B50 Jim says

    Dan —

    Thanks for the link! That’s some kind of project; true hot-rodding. My parents bought a new Crosley in 1947; it was cheap and available, and they had a great time with it. Replacing the clutch required removing about 6 bolts and lifting the engine out by hand. When it needed work on the underside they laid a blanket on the ground and tipped the car onto its side so they could easily fix what was broken. It carried the entire grade-school basketball team to games and made several trips from Morris, Illinois to Howell and Cadillac, Michigan and back, not to mention round trips to Wisconsin so Dad could meet his Army Reserve obligations. I’m sure their Crosley would have run far better with a big Milwaukee twin, but it did its job.

  3. B*A*M*F says

    I love the idea of a motorcycle engine in a car, but typically, the execution leaves something to be desired.

    The use of a car transmission behind the Harley motor in the 1st car pictured, and in the new Morgan trike are pretty interesting. That would be hard to do with a modern sport bike engine, but on something like a Harley with a separate transmission it could be made to happen more easily.

    Aside from the sound and love of the engine for less practical reasons, I can’t figure out why one would use a cruiser engine in a car. A larger or newer car engine is likely to have more power, and be lighter than the original engine by the time the transmission, reverse gear, etc. are factored in.

    I get that the a cruiser or touring bike engine would have a significant torque advantage over a high revving sport bike engine. Again, I go back to the newer/larger car engine as the more practical solution. Then again, we’re talking about an impractical build, so practicality misses the point.

  4. B50 Jim says

    B*A*MF* —
    Exactly! He’s doing it because he can. Practicality has nothing to do with it. There’s no provision for heat, no A/C beyond rolling down the windows, tons of effort (all documented on a great web site!) — all for a dinky car designed in the 1940s. The car still will get blown nearly off the road by a truck passing in the opposite direction — Dad said he had to hold tight to the steering wheel. But the Harley motor will sound great, and make about three times as much power as the original 4-banger, and enhance his cool content a thousand percent. That’s why he did it.

  5. B*A*M*F says

    I didn’t realize that a Crosley had so little power to begin with. A cruiser bike engine makes a lot of sense in that application with that little bit of knowledge.

  6. GuitarSlinger says

    For me , all of these are more fun than should be legal on four wheels as well as a good use ( maybe even better than ) of a Harley Davidson motor . The dragster has me smiling from ear to ear .

    The ACE / Morgan Cycle car is the one for me though . Got to drive ( or is it ride , no must be drive ) one of these ( an ACE ) when I lived in the Pacific NW . What an absolute HOOT ! After about five miles you couldn’t care less how fast you are or are not going , you’re having so much fun .

    Sheer unbridled entertainment .

    Honestly its a toss up for me whether , now that the wife has put the kibosh on two wheels , to go for a Sidecar rig or one of the Morgans ( or a nice used ACE )

  7. B. Tree III says

    If you follow the Crosley link to page 7 there is a picture of a v-max powered T-bucket.

  8. Dano says

    I know we come here for motorcycle information but sometimes one thing leads to another.
    The Crosley question came at one of those times. I have had a Waukesha horizontally opposed (boxer) ‘mystey’ engine for the past three years. Since I’m sitting around on the mend and not riding I dug around Google and found out that it is a Waukesha 150 “CUB”.
    It was the engine supplied in the first Crosley cars. I also found that there was a motorcyle connection to this engine. Powel Crosley was one creative guy and was involved with the WW2 effort in many ways. They proposed motorcycles and trikes to the military using this engine. It looks like a bulky BMW.
    http://crosleyautoclub.com/War_Years.html
    The engine I have was for a military application, it that has a 6:1 reduction gearbox attached to it. I was told that it was for a WW2 wrecker winch? The Waukesha Engine Historical Society has a historian that said that was a plausible use, they produced thousands of them for the military.
    It runs great, smooth as a watch, it sounds good too. As far as I can tell it had never been run, the oil looked original and there was no carbon on the plugs of tops of the pistons. It’s a flat head engine. I have about 45 minutes on it now.

  9. Matt says

    Cool, would love to see 2 or 3 v-twins interconnected some how like one of those multi-engine tractor pull rigs! =)