The Harley-Davidson Jerry Lee Lewis Sold After Elvis Refused To Trade

Celebrity cars and motorcycles can command enormous chunks of change when they come to auction. Pioneers of rock and roll are no exception. Hemmings reports that Jerry Lee Lewis, who passed away on Oct. 28 at the age of 87, managed $385,000 for one of his classic Harleys in 2015. That price was a testament both to the top-notch engineering of the early Harley touring bike and the enduring legacy of one of rock's first renegades.

Classic cars and motorcycles are fixtures of big-ticket auctions. Often, such wonderful toys have celebrity pedigree. Only so many people can afford a supercar or a top-range motorcycle, after all. When monied folks need liquid cash or just want to update their collections, their first stop is often the auction house. Everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to the Pope has auctioned off beautiful vehicles for big money.

Lewis was well-known for his collection of cars and bikes, but this Harley may be the most exciting ride he ever sold. Its engineering and its history are both a testament to the rock and roll legend.

Rock rebellion on two wheels

The 1959 Harley Davidson FLH Duo-Glide Panhead was an important machine for Harley and American motorcycling. The Duo-Glide debuted in 1958 as an upgrade to Harley's classic Hydra-Glide, the first Harley sold with hydraulic support for the front fork. The Duo-Glide upped the ante by adding hydraulics to the rear suspension as well, making the big touring bike rideable and comfortable on long journeys. The FLH put down 60 horsepower and could make a top speed of 105, ranking with the top touring bikes of its day, according to Mecum Auctions.

This particular Duo-Glide had true rock star pedigree. Harley gave two identical 1959 models to Lewis and Elvis Presley, but the Killer got his before the King. Lewis teased Elvis about what that meant for their respective stardom, even jokingly offering to swap bikes. Instead, Lewis stuck with his Duo-Glide, riding regularly and classing it with his favorite Harley panheads (via Mecum Auctions).

Lewis left behind a complex legacy as both a founder of rock and roll and an early model of destructive and sometimes predatory "rock star" excess. One thing is certain: Lewis was never boring. His Harley exhibits the excitement and fire that defined his music for a generation.