For this “Five famous movie bikes” series, I’m going to briefly present to you the mechanical stars that sent viewers’ hearts racing — so much so that some even started riding after falling in love with a bike they saw in a movie.
The first one in our list is the “Captain America” themed chopper from the 1969 Easy Rider movie.
When you hear the word “chopper” you’re most likely to remember scenes from the iconic Easy Rider blockbuster movie, particularly the Captain America custom bike Peter Fonda rode.
The Panhead custom with the sky-scraping sissy bar, leather “king and queen” saddle, as well as the American flag-themed tank, is one of the most recognizable motorcycles of all time.
As you may already know, the Easy Rider motorcycles (there were four bikes, three of which got stolen prior the film’s release) were not ordered from a dealership and delivered directly on the film set.
They were the real deal! Genuine hand-crafted choppers with custom-everything: stretched-out wheel-base, pulled back handlebars, sissy bar, and crazy paint jobs that matched the insane era when the action was taking place.
Famous bikes, famous movie, popular actors. But who were the builders who crafted these bikes? Well, the timeline of events seems a little bit entangled and hard to remember considering the 48 years that passed since the release of the movie.
Some say that the creators of these iconic bikes were American bike builders Clifford A. “Soney” Vaughs and Ben Hardy, a famous chopper-builder from Los Angeles. However, back in 2007, Peter Fonda said: “I built the motorcycles that I rode and Dennis rode. I bought four of them from Los Angeles Police Department.” In 2009, Dennis Hopper recorded an audio commentary track in which he says Vaughs “built the bikes, built the chopper.”
Larry Marcus is a mechanic who at the time worked for Vaughs at the choppers that were the central piece of the movie. He said that “Cliff really came up with the design for both motorcycles.”
Leaving aside the controversy, it’s clear that the one who built this bike was a visionary when it comes to the necessary looks and stance of a chopper. After the movie was released and became a worldwide hit, people all around the world started building customs that resembled the “Captain America” chopper.
If you thought about buying the original bike, you missed your chance (and most likely the money). This iconic motorcycle was sold off at an auction back in 2014 for $ 1.35 million — more than $ 1.6 million after the auction fees were added.