Buddy Stubbs’ Iconic Electra Glide in Blue

GlideSmallThis is another installment in the series of one-of-a-kind motorcycles I found in the collection of Phoenix Harley-Davidson dealer Buddy Stubbs.  Stubbs was a motorcycle racer in the 50s and 60s and a stuntman in many movies and television shows through the 1970s.  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Buddy and viewing his collection of over 300 vintage motorcycles at his Phoenix dealership.  All of the bikes are amazing; however there are a few that are truly iconic.

Possibly the defining moment in Buddy’s movie career was when he was hired to stunt ride and maintain a fleet of ten white Harley Electra Glides for the 1973 movie Electra Glide in Blue.  The film starred Robert Blake as a diminutive motorcycle cop caught in a web of trouble on the Arizona highway.  Blake later won an Emmy for his TV role as Baretta in the mid 70s.  With a smile, Buddy told me, “Blake is one of the few men I’ve met who is shorter than I am.”

The “blue” in the title of the movie referred to the color of the motorcycle cops’ uniforms.  However, the actual “blue” Electra Glide is the story here.  It only appeared in a shockingly climatic scene near the end of the film (which I will not spoil for you in case you get the itch to rent the movie).  In my opinion, this gritty movie is a must see for anyone who loves classic motorcycle flicks.  You can see the original Electra Glide in Blue movie trailer at the end of this article.

Now back to that blue Glide’s amazing story.  Buddy sold the bike to a customer in 1968.  When he was hired for the film in 1973, Buddy borrowed the bike back from that customer to use as a prop.  Upon completion of the film, Buddy returned the bike and did not see it again for years.  In an interesting twist of fate, Buddy saw the bike at a classic motorcycle auction in California almost 30 years later.  At that point, Buddy won the bidding for the bike, and it is now a cornerstone of his collection at his Phoenix dealership.

Like so many of the bikes in Buddy’s collection, the Electra Glide has a poignant back-story.  Stubbs prefers bikes that are in original, unrestored condition, which gives his classic collection an air of authenticity and history that is refreshingly rare.  If you want to see the rest of Buddy’s amazing collection, there is a tour offered every Friday evening at his Phoenix location.  Buddy himself often leads the tours.  For more information, visit http://www.buddystubbshd.com.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Evel Knievel’s Legendary Caesars Palace Triumph

EvilTriSmallBuddy Stubbs is a legendary television and movie stuntman, a former Daytona winning racer, and a successful Harley-Davidson dealer. I recently spent an afternoon talking with Buddy and perusing his amazing collection of iconic motorcycles at his dealership in Phoenix, Arizona. A full article on Buddy and his classic collection will appear in an upcoming in All About Bikes Magazine. However, I am going to give you a look as some of the more intriguing motorcycles in Mr. Stubbs’ collection.

We will start this series with a spotlight on the closest thing we’ll ever see to the Triumph that Evel Knievel destroyed in his fateful attempt to leap the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Let’s start with the backstory. Buddy became close friends with Knievel in the 1950s and 1960s when both were active racers. Stubbs said that he and Knievel often went head-to-head in races around the country. Interestingly, Stubbs related that Knievel was only a mediocre racer who, “seldom made it to the main event.” However, Stubbs said that that early racing experience, along with Knievel’s fearlessness and larger-than-life personality combined to make him the greatest motorcycle showman of all time.

On to the story. Along with the rest of the nation, Buddy watched his friend attempt a New Year’s Eve jump over the fountains of Caesars Palace in 1967. The stunt, which was filmed by ABC Sports, ended with a failed landing that sent Knievel into a coma for 29 days (see the video below). The Triumph that Knievel was riding ended up in a twisted heap of burned metal.

Years after the Caesars Palace jump, Knievel was visiting his friend Buddy at his Harley dealership in Phoenix. Knievel spotted a Triumph 650 Bonneville like the one he jumped in Las Vegas. At that point he asked Buddy how much he wanted for the bike. Knievel’s desire was to build an exact replica of the bike that was destroyed at Caesars Palace. Stubbs told Knievel that he had no interest in selling the bike.

However, Buddy related, “Evel was a man with a forceful personality who didn’t like to take ‘no’ for an answer.” After more discussion, Buddy told Knievel that he could borrow the bike and do what he wanted with it, on the condition that he gave it back some day.

The bike you see in the picture is that replica of the destroyed Palace jump bike. What makes it so unique is that it is a project completed by Knievel himself. The bike he borrowed from Stubbs formed the framework for Knievel’s recreation. It spent years in Knievel’s own collection.

How that bike came back into Buddy’s collection adds a powerful endnote to the story. Buddy received a call from Knievel in November of 2007. Evel told Buddy that he was not going to show his collection of bikes anymore and he wanted to return the Triumph. Two days after the Triumph was back in Buddy’s possession, his friend Evel died.

For more information on Buddy Stubbs’ dealership and classic collection, visit http://www.buddystubbshd.com/.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com