What it lacks in modern elite-precision engineering it more than makes up for in good old nostalgia. And now it can be yours. Fonzie's motorcycle is going up for auction in Los Angeles next month.
Henry Winkler played The Fonz on the classic 1970s sitcom "Happy Days," which looked back on a carefree 1950s in the Midwestern blue collar stronghold of Milwaukee. On the show, the leather-jacket-clad Fonzie rode around town in a 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5 Scrambler Custom--usually with a poodle skirt-clad passenger clinging to his waist. Auction house Bonham's and The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will play host to the Classic California Sale on November 12, where the bike is expected to sell well north of $50,000, according to the auctioneers.
Away from Arthur Fonzarelli and the Beer Capital of the World's mean streets, the motorcycle was actually owned by former motorcycle racer and enthusiast Bud Ekins. He was the rider standing in for Steve McQueen for the more dangerous bike stunts in "The Great Escape."
When ABC and the sitcom's producers came calling for the perfect Fonzian mode of transportation, legend has it Ekins picked the Triumph.
It was an odd choice, looking back on it. Yes, it's a handsome and reliable old bike that fit the period. But as "Happy Days" and Milwaukee are inseparable (note the Bronze Fonz), so are Milwaukee and Harley-Davidson.
The oldest manufacturer of motorcycles in America is headquartered in Milwaukee, and while you can of course own other brands of bikes besides Harley-Davidsons there, it's sometimes considered as advisable as cheering for the Chicago Bears on a Sunday afternoon along Wisconsin Avenue. It was a minor lapse in credibility for a tough, womanizing biker of the 1950s not to ride a Harley in Beer Town.
Besides, if Fonzie had been on a hunk of Milwaukee iron, I bet he would've made it over those garbage cans.