Motorcycle Library Retro Review
With cover art by noted artist Dave Barnhouse and a list of contributors that reads like a who’s who of motorcycle lore, “This Old Harley,” edited by Michael Dregni, draws you into the warmly lit garage on its cover and keeps you reading chapter by chapter.
The subtitle says the book is “the ultimate tribute to the world’s greatest motorcycle,” but Dregni’s collection of stories, artwork and images feels more like the best issue ever of the old Saturday Evening Post than one of the more typical Harley-Davidson compendia. And, maybe that’s what he was going for.
That is not to say the book is all fluff and nostalgia. “Catching up on History” is a chapter written by David K. Wright, who authored the Motor Company’s official history book for its 80th Anniversary back in 1983. In that chapter, Wright gives a blunt and unflinching account of what was wrong with Harley-Davidson at the time when the company’s fortunes seemed at their lowest ebb.
Cycle World and Road & Track scribe, Peter Egan, picks up the Harley quality struggle where Wright leaves off. He tells of his first Harley-Davidson; an 883 Sportster purchased new from a dealer in 1990—after H-D product quality had been “…made safe from catastrophic mechanical failure by the arrival of the Evolution engine.”
But it wasn’t a conscious decision to avoid Harleys that kept this life-long motorcyclist from buying one until 1990; it was circumstance and the story behind it that takes us back to Egan’s childhood in Elroy, WI is worth reading.
Episodes written by Arlen Ness, Evel Knievel, David Edwards, Allan Girdler, Melissa Holbrook Pierson, Cook Nielson, Tim Remus, Buzz Kanter, Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum and others, artwork by Dave Barnhouse, Stevan Dohanos, Kent Bash, and James “Kingneon” Gucwa interspersed with photography by some of the best and Dregni covers the range from the Silent Gray Fellow of 1915 to wistful wannabe Harley owners to over-the-top customs.
- Title: This Old Harley
- Author: Edited by Michael Dregni
- Published: 2000
- Publisher: Voyageur Press, 123 North Second St., PO Box 338, Stillwater, MN, 55082, USA.
- ISBN: 0-89658-443-7
Note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature here may be out of print and some may be difficult to find. That could be half the fun. The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the internet. They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on.