1942 Harley-Davidson FL Knucklehead

Once owned by Jim and John McLaughlin's dad, this 1942 Harley-Davidson got sold and then rebought and restored. Now, this classic bike might even get passed on to a third generation McLaughlin when the bike turns 100. Check it out!

Sponsored by CanDo International Inc.

Walking the Fuel Cleveland show last fall, we encountered a number of cool, custom bikes that caught our attention. However, it wasn’t only the custom bikes that turned our heads. There were a few classic rides that went through full restorations to return them to their original glory that also had us stopped in our tracks.

MPN’s Jacqui Van Ham stands with Jim McLaughlin, owner of this 1942 Harley Knucklehead at the 2021 Fuel Cleveland show.

One in particular was this 1942 Harley-Davidson FL Knucklehead owned by Jim McLaughlin and his brother John. The bike was owned by their dad when they were kids. However, he ended up needing to trade the bike in order to get another bike completed. While the bike was sold, the love for it hadn’t gone away.

“We always loved this bike,” Jim McLaughlin says. “We loved the blue paint and it’s a great looking machine. We decided to try and buy the bike back, but the guy who ended up with it wouldn’t sell it for the longest time.

“He ended up getting cancer and needed to get rid of the bike in order to set things right with his family before he passed. We ended up buying all of this guy’s Harley stuff just to get dad’s bike back. We then ended up selling all of that in order to keep this bike.”

Jim and John worked really hard to sell off that other Harley stuff in order to get the ’42 Knucklehead going again and back in pristine shape. Unfortunately, the previous owner didn’t take super great care of it or even ride very often.

“He kind of just liked having it,” McLaughlin says. “My brother and I began tinkering with it and restoring it two years ago. I spent a week just cleaning it. It’s an FL, so it has the big engine. We just like riding dad’s old bike.”

In fact, Jim likes riding the Harley so much that he daily drove it for the last year and a half, putting a number of quality miles on the bike.

“We’ve probably put 1,500 miles on it in the past year and half,” he says. “John and I own the bike now, but when my son turns 21, the bike will be 100. The plan is to, not really give it to him, especially if he ends up being a twerp (joking), but he can enjoy it like my brother and I have.”

Amongst a sea of custom builds, this 80-year-old Harley was refreshing to see, and it was even more refreshing learning how much Jim and John enjoy riding it still.

If you have a motorcycle, ATV, UTV, snowmobile or jet ski you’d like to feature in MPN’s Ride of the Week series, sponsored by CanDo International, please email MPN Content Director Greg Jones at [email protected]

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