Shop on Craigslist long enough and you can find just about anything. Everything from food trucks, new electronics, a strange rash from a one-night stand—it’s all on there. That’s also where Warren “Jr.” Heir located this ’53 Harley-Davidson FL for his friend, Jim Didier.
Warren found this Pan on a trip to Daytona for Bike Week. It wasn’t a random occurrence, either. Jim really wanted an old Harley to turn into a sweet chopper and Warren was looking to help him find it. If you’re hunting for a scoot in the spring, they are plentiful during Bike Week. Looking for one online when you’re surrounded by every kind of motorcycle imaginable seemed a little odd, but it worked for Warren. When he picked it up, it was basket case. “We found it, bought it, then Sanford and Son’ed it all the way home,” Warren explained.
Home for Warren is in Illinois. That’s where warren runs Jr’s Cycle Products. He was damn near born into motorcycling. “It’s my dad’s fault,” Warren says. “He literally raised me in it. He had my bouncy seat set in the doorframe of Warren Cycle, which is my dad’s shop.” Growing up like that doesn’t exactly give you a taste for trailer queens and billet barges. Old ’60s- and ’70s-style choppers are his iron of choice. “That’s kind of what I was raised around and my dad and his buddies were into. If I had a preference, I’d be running an extended springer rigid knucklehead with a king queen seat,” says Warren. He loved building Jim’s Pan chop. Hell, he must have. Why else would he have dubbed it the Perfect Panhead?
Style-wise though, this machine starts with Jim. He logged the due diligence online to really figure out what he wanted in a custom machine. Pictures of similar iron formed a rough ad hoc blueprint in Jim’s mind first, then he printed them out and showed them to Warren. From there it was all Warren: “Working with Jim on the styling and what he was after was the easiest part. He gave me the trust and leeway to make it happen. He had confidence in me to do the job right and that was pretty cool. I’d like to thank him for that.”
Originally Jim wanted an old Knucklehead but his wallet had a different idea. The images from his research had a Panhead in some of them. He liked the history and look. While a Panhead lacks the industrial angry style inherent to the heads on a Knuck, nothing says ’50s Harley like a true Pan V-twin. Transforming this bike was really a matter of simplification and sleeking it out. Warren couldn’t be happier with the way the bike turned out: “It’s real sleek. The original parts and handmade parts fit together real nice. Shit, there’s nothing I’d do different. I love it. I like it the way it is. It’s the nicest bike I’ve ever built.”
“Simplifying” is a word abused almost as badly as motivational speakers whore out the word “passion.” It’s sort of a catch-all for streamlining. Here though, that’s exactly what happened. Anything Jim didn’t want found itself torn off the bike and thrown in the corner. Everything else was crowned, polished, touched, blasted, coated, and plated. Warren Sr. went through the motor and did an awesome job breathing new life into its old barrels and cases. “It needed new tires, we had to find new rims because the bike came with shitty ones. We went up to 18-inch rims instead of 16s for more of that Knuckle styling. Other than that, it’s mostly original.”
Jim was thrilled as hell when he got the bike. Sadly, though, riding off into the sunset for the traditional happy ending wasn’t meant to be. Unemployment gave Jim the evil eye, forcing him to hawk this badass bike to a guy in, of all places, Australia.
That’s a pretty long walk from Illinois, let alone the Florida garage which Jim and Warren rescued it from. Losing a loved one like that is gut wrenching but the new owner is a guy who appreciates what he has, according to Warren. “The guy takes it to all the shows and still sends me pictures of it, so we found it a good home.” Although Warren is grateful to the Aussie owner for taking care of his creation, he’s more thankful to his dad for all the support and doing motor and tranny work on this project. . HB