Custom Chrome

Tour this highly customized, chromed-out 1948 Harley-Davidson motorcycle and Goulding Rocket-style sidecar for a taste of the atomic era aesthetic.

"The motorcycle invasion of Richmond started on Friday afternoon and by nightfall, hundreds of riders were already in town. Saturday morning saw whole clubs arriving and Broad Street, in front of Dealer Charlie Pinnell's store, was soon lined solid with motorcycles for blocks." 
- The Enthusiast, July 1951

Motorcyclists were gathering for the 5-Mile National Races held in Richmond, Virginia, May 26 and 27, 1951. Amidst the hubbub, a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle with sidecar drew a crowd.

Customized motorcycle and sidecar (1951-05)Harley-Davidson Museum

Ned Kincaid of Greenville, North Carolina and passenger Marjorie McSwain dazzled bystanders from a highly customized, chrome-laden sidecar rig.

The attention to detail was stunning—much like the detail in this photo, which allow us to explore the bike's embellished features.

Harley-Davidson® 1948 model FL with Goulding Rocket sidecar

Ned's 1948 Harley-Davidson® model FL motorcycle has a spaceship-like Goulding Rocket sidecar. 

Original components enhanced with chrome include the springer front forks, front wheel stand, fender support brackets and sidecar frame. 

Chrome accessories were also added:

Mack Truck bulldogs

Easily overlooked in this photo, a pair of authentic Mack Truck bulldog hood ornaments flank the front wheel. They would have been an eye-catching novelty among more common motorcycle fender ornaments at the time. 

Front fender ornaments

Below the bulldogs, two rocket-style marker lights are mounted on the front fender. The rocket shaped design is very illustrative of the “atomic” era style found on many of the bike's adornments.  

Spark plug holder

A practical accessory, a chrome spark plug holder—the object reminiscent of a rectangular front-desk call bell or a butter dish—is attached to the sidecar frame.

Sidecar fender additions

The sidecar's fender add-ons include chrome plated trim rods flanking the top fender light and a chrome fender tip with a flying wheel design.

A Bumper King and Grill, colloquially called a cheese cutter, are partially visible on the rear of the fender.

Squeeze bulb horns

The passenger can sound the alarm with a squeeze bulb horn attached to the sidecar...

Squeeze bulb horns

while the motorcycle pilot has access to two horns.

Tank details

The two-tone tank indicates a modified paint scheme: all 1948 paint schemes were a single color. Our guess is this FL model was Azure Blue with added white accents. 

The letters N.E.D.—the owner's name—were added to the tank above the Harley-Davidson® badge.

Coordinated accents

The sidecar paint also reflects the two-tone tank design.

Finishing the look, the motorcycle's saddle and the sidecar seat are upholstered in the same fabric.

Customized motorcycle and sidecar, 1951-05, From the collection of: Harley-Davidson Museum
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Chrome plated parking lights with white lenses can be found below the sidecar (first photo) and behind the spark plug holder (second photo). Three more white-lens parking lights also help make the large chrome hub cap accessory glisten along the wheel (third photo).

Customized motorcycle and sidecar (1951-05)Harley-Davidson Museum

Engine guard additions

Mounted close together on the engine guard, a rear view mirror faces the rider while a De Lux Spotlight with clear lens shines into the road ahead. Footrests are also attached to the engine guard.


Above, on a chrome plated spotlight bar, sit three De Luxe Spotlights that could be operated by the rider with a convenient handlebar switch.

Customized motorcycle and sidecar, 1951-05, From the collection of: Harley-Davidson Museum
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Additional chrome details around the motorcycle's front wheel include shock absorbers added to springer™  front fork (photo 1), rear frame stand on front wheel (photo 2), and an aftermarket, or possibly home-built, oil cooler and gauge (photo 3). Also noticeable in these photos is the added fender trim kit and extra fender lamp on the back of the front fender. 

Customized motorcycle and sidecar (1951-05)Harley-Davidson Museum

Finally, the most stunning feature is perhaps the sidecar's chrome-dipped nose cone.

It was so sleek, a crowd of onlookers can be seen in the reflection and the local Harley-Davidson® dealership is identifiable in the background.

Dealership on Broad Street (1951-05)Harley-Davidson Museum

Using that reflection, we know the photo of Ned and Marjorie was taken on Broad Street outside the motorcycle and bicycle shop run by Charlie Pinnell. 

Here is an alternate view of the busy street and H-D® dealership from a photo also taken during 1951 race festivities.

Clubs and Competitions gallery inside the Harley-Davidson Museum (2008) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

Check it Out

Explore more amazing photography, fun motorcycle events, and rider stories by visiting the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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