The Fonze’s Bike, and a Symbol of the American Spirit, Hits the Auction Block

The tough greaser, we will call him Chet, loads up on his bike, shiny black leather jacket adorning his upper half, toothpick twirling in his teeth, he has had a good ride in this town, but now it is time to move on to the next adventure, time to submit his letter of resignation and let his girl know that it is “splitsville.”  Or so the legend of the greaser goes.

Whether you think of James Dean, Marlon Brando, or the gang from West Side Story, the greaser archetype is an essential element, if not in many ways THE central element or symbol of masculinity in pop culture and popular sub culture.  Some would see this character as a Hollywood fiction which has had great influence over American adolescence, or a cornerstone of American adolescence which has expressed itself through many Hollywood characters.  Either way, the Greaser, the independent tough guy, the rebel without any cause outside of himself, has been both a fictional archetype and a cultural reality in America for the past 60 years or so.

The Phoenix Valley area has not been on the periphery during this cultural movement.  One need only think of two Phoenix Arizona mainstays to realize its central role in both Greaser and related cultural movements.  One of course is hot rodding.  Phoenix culture in 1950, as much as today, was a car culture.  It is both an accident of geography (living in a large flat valley), and an expression of the maverick western spirit.  The other, perhaps less obvious, is Duane Eddy.  Duane Eddy was born in New York and grew up in Arizona, and along with some great Phoenix Arizona arrangers and sound engineers, invented the reverberated twang that grew to be so pervasive in surf, rockabilly, and other forms of music essential to Greaser culture.

This all brings us to the Fonze.  Aurthur Fonzarelli, the cartoonish epitome of 1950s Greaser culture.  The epitome of cool.  The Fonze, the man, the fixer, the heart breaker, the American legend.  The Fonze, of course, also road a motorcycle.  When the gang at Arnold’s heard that 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5 Scrambler Custom roaring into the parking lot, they knew that their hero had arrived.  And now you can take part in the lineage of a legend.  This classic motorcycle will be crossing the auction block at the Bonhams Classic California Sale in Los  Angeles on November 12th.

Taking place at the Peterson Autmotive Museum in Los Angeles on November 12th, this is one of the finest and most unique collector car auctions in the world.  A short drive from the Phoenix Valley area, this hidden automotive gem of an auction is well worth the trip.

Speaking of legends, this motorcycle later belonged to the legendary stuntman Bud Ekins, who you may know better as Steve McQueen’s stunt double, the guy who did all of the scary motorcycle jumps in Bullet.  The Fonze and the guy who did the stunts that Steve McQueen wasn’t comfortable doing (or more likely wasn’t allowed to do)…sounds like good company to me.

 

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