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The Fonz’s Triumph Motorcycle Makes Happy Days at Recent Bonhams Auction

I was a young little tyke when Happy Days was popular, but I remember watching the show on one of those TVs that was the size of a small car. It had antennas on top that we had to move from time to time to get better reception. I suppose I thought the Fonz was cool, like everyone else did, but I had more of a crush on Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard).

The motorcycle the Fonz used on the show recently made headlines as “the most valuable Triumph motorcycle sold at an auction.”

According to Triumph’s press release, the 1949 Triumph Trophy 500 Custom was, “originally customised for the television show by famous Hollywood stuntman Bud Ekins” and was “a regular feature during its ten-year run.” When Happy Days went off the air, the motorcycle was left untouched until it was rediscovered in 2000 by motorcycle journalist Wendy F Black. Recently, the San Diego Automotive Museum featured it in an exhibit. Here’s more from Triumph:

Unedited Press Release: A 1949 Triumph Trophy 500 Custom motorcycle, ridden by Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli in the television show Happy Days set a new auction world record for the marque, selling for $231,562 at Bonhams Los Angeles on Wednesday 8 December.

Arguably one of television’s coolest motorbikes, the Triumph was offered in the Bonhams TMC Presents … Hollywood Cool sale where it raced past its pre-sale estimate of $50,000 – 70,000.

Not only has this motorcycle set a new Triumph motorcycle auction world record, it is also one of the top 100 motorcycles ever sold at auction, joining other Bonhams sales including a 1932 Brough Superior 800cc Model BS4 Project which made $480,000 in 2016, and the ex-Tony McAlpine, Jack Ehret, Australian Land Speed Record Breaking 1951 Vincent 998cc Black Lightning which achieved the exceptional sum of $929,000 in 2018, the most valuable motorcycle ever sold at auction – a record that still stands.

Other lots in the TMC Presents … Hollywood Cool sale included a pair of mechanic overalls as well worn by Henry Winkler in the television show together with the leather jacket and biker boots that completed The Fonz’s signature look.

Link to Bonham’s catalogue: View catalogue and full list of results

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Heather Lea has traveled to over 60 countries, 40 of which were on a BMW F 800 GS during a 708-day round-the-world motorcycle adventure with now-husband, Dave Sears (Trip Blog: Riding Full Circle). Heather has been a freelance writer for over twenty-five years and a book and magazine editor for more than fifteen. Aside from Expedition Portal, her stories can be found in Overland Journal, Canadian Geographic, Kootenay Mountain Culture, and Canadian Alpine Journal. She loves doing anything in the backcountry, including backpacking, four-wheel-driving, ski touring, and climbing. Heather is a Canadian now living in Bellingham, WA. Find her on Instagram @writer_heather_lea or on Facebook @heatherleawriter.