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'Happy Days' Triumph Motorcycle Hits The Auction Block


The 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5 used in filming "Happy Days."  Image: Bonhams Auctions

The 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5 used in filming "Happy Days." Image: Bonhams Auctions

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Motorcycle riders in America have always gotten a bad rap. Blame it Marlon Brando, whose portrayal of a motorcycle gang leader in the film classic, “The Wild Ones” forever skewed the image of motorcycle riders in America.

Until Arthur Fonzarelli came along, that is. Played by actor Henry Winkler, Arthur Fonzarelli was the greaser-with-the-heart-of-gold in the mega-successful television sitcom “Happy Days.”

If you grew up in the late 1970s, there was no escaping the show, which invaded pop culture in ways that Justin Bieber can only dream about. Each week, millions of Americans watched “The Fonz,” played by Winkler, ride his battered but loved motorcycle through the nostalgia-cleaned streets of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In an odd way, “The Fonz” was the hero that motorcycling in America needed. He wasn’t drunk and disorderly, he appeared to bathe regularly and he never threw the first punch; in other words, he was the antithesis of what the media had made bikers out to be.

If you asked motorcycle fans to name the bike, all but the most hardcore would fail to identify it as a 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5, with its front fender removed. At least four were built and used for filming during the show’s decade long run, but only this one survives today.

As The New York Times tells us, that survivor will go under the hammer at the upcoming  Bonhams Classic California Sale, scheduled for November 12 at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The “Happy Days” Triumph is expected to fetch between $60,000 and $80,000, primarily due to its sole-survivor status.

Whoever buys the bike won’t be getting one ridden by Winkler; the actor, it seems, was terrified of motorcycles, and all the scenes with Winkler in motion were filmed with stagehands pushing the bike.
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