Warren, Ohio, Jan. 7—Few phrases stir the imagination like the phrase “barn find.” Dirt and dust. Weather-beaten barns and haymows with oddly-shaped lumps under them come to my mind. Regardless of what brand or model bike that lump under the hay represents in your dreams, the National Packard Museum has built their 2016 antique motorcycle exhibit to celebrate it in any condition.
Every barn find has a story and the annual preview night creates a great opportunity to mix and mingle with the owners of the vintage bikes on display and capture their stories. Trent Seed of Thompson, Ohio’s story started 35 years ago at Geneva-on-the-Lake. His 1965 BSA B40 was languishing beside a barn when he rescued it. He caught a glimpse of the bike leaning against a barn, stopped and made a deal. The problem for Trent was that he was driving a Volkswagen and had no room for his new-found treasure. The bike was not running at the time so Trent left his VW there and pushed his BSA over two miles to get it home. Trent and I share the same philosophy when it comes to barn finds—get ’em home as quickly as humanly possible because things happen. The main issue keeping the BSA from running turned out to be a polarity issue due to the bike’s positive grounding. Trent continues to ride the bike periodically.
In today’s age of technology, sometimes eBay can serve the role of a barn. Such was the case for Bob Bindar of Poland, Ohio. Bob had been looking for a Harley XLCR, but found a pristine ’75 Sportster XLH instead. He bought the bike in ’02 from the original owner in Oaklawn, Illinois, and proudly displays it with its original invoice hanging from the bars. The bike has about 11,000 miles on it—about 2,000 of those miles were added by Bindar.
Manufacturers from around the world are represented in the exhibit. From England there is BSA, Triumph, Royal Enfield, Ariel, Vincent and Norton. The international barn-find parade has representatives from Russia (Zid), France (Terrot), Japan (Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha), Germany (BMW, Horex and Maico) and Italy (Vespa and Allstate, and the AMF raffle bike). The U.S.A. is represented by Harley-Davidson and Indian.
Dan and Wendy Amodio bought their ’46 Indian Chief for $100! Of course, that was in 1968. Amodio answered an ad in the local paper and first saw the bike gathering dust in an old, dilapidated barn. Gas leaking from the tank caught fire as the seller jumped it from an old truck battery! That’s when this old Chief was rescued and just in time.
Some of the bikes have racing histories, like Bud and Kerry Kubena’s 1950 BSA A7 Star Twin. The Pennsylvania couple bought the bike from Wil Ahart of Valparaiso, Florida, in 2009. Wil raced the bike and even won the 1954 Florida State Half-Mile Championship on it. With photo documentation from Wil’s son, the bike has been meticulously restored to its 1954 condition. The red, black and chrome beauty is displayed with Ahart’s studded kidney belt, trophy and vintage hot shoe.
You can take a $10 chance on winning this year’s raffle bike: a 1973 AMF Harley-Davidson SS350 Sprint. The bike was generously donated by Dr. Steven Watts of Warren, Ohio, and the winner will be drawn at the end of the 2017 motorcycle exhibit. Proceeds of the raffle will directly benefit the museum and its operations.
One of the most touching stories I found was the story of Chad and Laisa Thompson of Kinsman, Ohio. Laisa’s mom and dad bought a ’65 Panhead in 1977. She grew up getting rides on the bike on Sunday afternoons and shared that she could remember her mom, dad and brother all riding on the bike at the same time! Laisa’s dad passed away in 1992 and the bike became hers. It needed major repairs, so a few years later at the age of 19, she tore it down to the frame and packed it away in her dad’s garage. Then she got married and started a family. The bike took a back seat to that until 2015 when Laisa’s husband Chad snuck the bike away to Bob Bancroft and his wife Dona for repairs and restoration to its original condition. Bob has had his hands on many museum-quality bikes through the years and is well respected and very modest. The bike was presented to Laisa as a total surprise in memory of her father. Tears were shed and now everyone can enjoy seeing the Panhead in all its original paint glory!
The National Packard Museum continues to provide several cycling-related activities during the course of the exhibit, which runs until June 12. On February 20 is a seminar entitled Restoration vs. Preservation: How to Care for Historic Motorcycles. March 22 features Movie Night at the Museum and on May 14 the museum will host a Rider Safety seminar followed by a vintage group ride, with all riders welcome.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau, the Lake Erie Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, Little Wing Café, Inspired Catering by Kravitz, Dreves Insurance and the Zodiac Motorcycle Club. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday noon to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00–5:00 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors (65 and older) and children (7–12), while children under 7 are free.
Museum Executive Director Mary Ann Porinchak, Curator Bruce Williams and the exhibit committee welcome the motorcycling community with open arms each year, but motorcycles aren’t the only worn leather and spoked wheels on display here. Many of the museum’s wonderful Packard-based exhibits, including classic Packard automobiles and related Packard artifacts, remain on display and can be enjoyed for no additional charge. The museum is located at 1899 Mahoning Avenue NW in Warren, Ohio. For more information, call 333.394.1899 or go to packardmuseum.org.