The Beginning of the Quest
I bought this “Basket Case” project (1952 BSA) in 1965 for a large sum of $300.00. The bike came unassembled in wicker bushel baskets. I was 16 years old and living in Mountainside, NJ. Over the year until my 17th birthday (the legal driving age in NJ), I built it up to what you see here. I had help building this project as a 22 year old Mario Andretti use to work with my grandfather in construction. He was the greatest welder I have ever seen to this day. He welded the frame back together when I chopped the
rear to emulate the Harley Hardtail. Mario introduced me to his engine builder, Willy & Eddie Matakia (Mataka Brothers’, of Raceweld Co) who rebuilt & modified my motor to make it the fastest bike around. I sold it when I went to Viet Nam with the Marine Corps. The year of this photo is 1966.
This bike was bought brand new from George, of Phil Petersons Harley in Miami, FL. Right after buying it, the bike came apart and I built this bike in the old Cranes Machine Shop. The shop was purchased from the Cranes when they moved to a better facility in Hallandale, FL. It was built and assembled by me, Howard Messner, except for the motor. Harley Bob handled all engine work. I used the equipment in the machine shop to make all the special 1 off parts seen here as it was a full machine shop. Back then, the only way to build a chopper was to make it yourself. The Cherry Girder, Coffin Tank, and handlebars were purchased from Tony Carlini when he lived and worked in Detroit, MI.
The paint work was done by my childhood friend Tony Carlini. Tony made the “Howy Davidson” Logo.
The engraving was done by Von Dutch. He stated: “I do
not paint any longer as my work should last forever!”
Black, Gold & Chrome. Won 1975 best in show award in the very first World Of Wheels in Miami, Florida.