Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, became the star of the television show Happy Days. His character Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, better known as “The Fonz” on the long-running ABC sitcom which aired Tuesday nights from 1974-84 that helped establish TV character as the king of cool. He was given a ‘cool’ customised Triumph to ride by the producers. The motorbike is expected to fetch £100,000 at auction.
“The Fonz” Triumph custmized motorcycle is being sold by Profiles in History in California. There will also be an authentic Fonz leather jacket for sale, which has an estimate of $45,600. USD
Fonzie was given a Harley-Davidson to ride at first but the producers then looked for a ‘cooler’ bike and fell for the customised Triumph. It was the model ridden by Marlon Brando’s character Johnny Strabler in the 1953 film The Wild One. However, it is said that Winkler couldn’t handle the Triumph and would be pushed in and out of shots during the sitcom.
The bike was provided by Bud Ekins, the stuntman who was Steve McQueen’s double in The Great Escape and made the famous motorcycle jump over a barbed wire fence.
There were actually three Triumphs all 500cc Trophy models of various years, used on the show, two of which had gone missing – stolen, raced into the ground or sold off for parts. The sole remaining Fonzie bike had been since 1990, hiding in plain sight, stored unceremoniously at Mean Marshall’s Motorcycles. Shop owner Marshall Ehlers purchased the bike from Ekins not for its star power but for the model’s race history, its all-alloy engine and its sparse good looks. At one point he even considered restoring the Trophy back to showroom-stock spec.
Happily that didn’t happen and now one of the world’s coolest Triumphs, untouched since it last rolled across television screens 27 years ago, is ready for its second act.
The 1949 Triumph Trophy 500 Custom will be auctioned this fall and a portion of proceeds from the sale will be donated by Bonhams to aid Henry Winkler’s charitable work in support of children with dyslexia.