This is a Ford Flathead V8-powered motorcycle built by the world-famous Olson’s V8 Flathead Motorcycle Company based in Maple Park, Illinois. It was built in 2014 and it’s now being offered for sale out of Twinsburg, Ohio.
Each of these motorcycles is built by hand by Dave Olsen. He takes a 60 bhp Flathead V8 and gives it a full rebuild, then installs it into a tubular steel frame with a hardtail rear and a sprung saddle. Each bike is built to be 100% road legal, making them among the most unique cruisers money can buy.
Fast Facts – The Olson Ford Flathead V8 Motorcycle
- Olson’s V8 Flathead Motorcycles was founded by Dave Olsen specifically to build his own cruiser design powered by Ford’s legendary Flathead V8 that first debuted in the 1932 Ford V-8 (also known as the Ford Model 18).
- The Ford Flathead is the engine that brought V8 power to the working class masses for the first time, kickstarting America’s love affair with the V8 and the hot rod movement.
- Dave Olsen’s motorcycles are each built by hand, they start with a rebuilt Flathead V8 which is then fitted to a tubular steel hardtail frame with a telescopic fork or springer front end. The transmission is a simple direct drive system with no gear shifting required thanks to the engine’s prodigious torque.
- Each of these motorcycles is fitted with all the lighting required for road legal use, and they have been exported and ridden as far away as countries like Australia. The example you see in this article is currently being offered for sale out of Twinsburg, Ohio.
The Importance Of The Ford Flathead V8
The Ford Flathead V8 is unquestionably one of the most important engines of the 20th century, and one of the most important American engines of all time. This would be the first mass-produced V8 engine ever made by Ford, and more importantly, it would power the first V8-powered car that was affordable to the average American – the 1932 Ford.
Above Video: This is a comprehensive vintage documentary about the development, history, and wider impact of the Ford Flathead V8.
Ford’s Flathead V8 wasn’t ground breaking from an engineering standpoint, with the possible exception of the fact that Ford engineers figured out how to reliably cast the crankcase and all eight cylinders in one block – and to do it in staggeringly high numbers.
The engine has a simple flathead design, with the standard two valves per cylinder, a single central camshaft, removable heads, and a displacement of 221 cubic inches (3.6 liters) for the initial production run.
The affordability of the 1932 Ford (also known as the Ford Model 18 or the Ford V-8) put V8 power into the hands of many Americans for the first time, and they liked it. They liked it a lot.
It was the ’32 Ford that kickstarted the hot rod movement across the United States, the engine remained in production with Ford for 21 years until 1954, and the aftermarket had kept the engine in production ever since – you can still buy newly cast Flathead V8 blocks to the modern day.
The Ford Flathead V8 Motorcycle Shown Here
The motorcycle you see here was built in 2014 by Dave Olsen of Olson’s V8 Flathead Motorcycles based in Maple Park, Illinois. As the company name suggests, Olsen is an expert at building motorcycles around the Ford Flathead V8 and interestingly, he’s worked out a system that completely does away with the need for a gearbox.
Olsen starts each new bike by rebuilding a Flathead V8 so it’s fresh from the big end bearings up. He then fabricates a tubular steel hardtail frame to his own unique design that cradles the engine. A traditional telescopic fork or springer front end is added, along with spoked chrome wheels front and back.
Given the hefty curb weight of the completed motorcycle it’s of paramount importance to ensure it had adequate braking, as a result Olsen fits each of his bikes with dual front discs and a single rear disc.
A radiator is installed up in front of the engine mounted to the frame downtubes to keep the engine running cool, and each bike gets an electric starter and a Mallory distributor. Due to the hardtail rear end a sprung saddle is fitted, along with a split fuel tank able to carry enough fuel for decent range in-between gas station visits.
The reason the fuel tank is split down the middle is to make room for the intake manifold, carburetor, and air cleaner – as a result the filter protrudes slightly above the top of the fuel tank. The exhausts from the engine run down either side, and a rear luggage rack is fitted to ensure plenty of space for gear when touring.
Each bike is given the headlights, turn signals, and mirrors required to make them fully street legal. many owners do road register them, some prefer to place their bike on display due to its unusual nature.
This motorcycle was built with the rarer 136 cubic inch (2,228cc) Ford Flathead V8, an engine that was reportedly only made for three years. It produces a claimed 60 bhp and 100 lb ft of torque, and power is sent to the rear wheel via a direct-drive transmission – no gears are needed as the engine produces most of its torque from very low in the rev range.
The Olsen Flathead V8 motorcycle you see here is now being offered for sale out of Twinsburg, Ohio on Bring a Trailer. It’s has no mileage listed as the bike has been used as a display piece since it was first built, as a result it comes with a bill of sale rather than a title. If the future owner does want to road register it, they will need to research the best way to get it titled before bidding.
If you’d like to read more about this unusual motorcycle or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
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