When Summerville’s Robert Shingler and his wife, Susan, drive back into the Lowcountry this week from Florida, they’ll be pulling some special cargo that some Harley Davidson collectors would die for.
The pair was at the Gator Harley Davidson dealer in Leesburg, Fla., on Tuesday to pick up their “one of a kind” bike.
Looking at it, most people probably couldn’t tell what makes it special, according to dealership owner John Malik. The midnight blue Road Glide doesn’t have any unique markings on it.
“It’s just one of the bikes that came down the assembly line,” said Malik.
It’s the order in which it went down that assembly line that makes the bike special for Harley enthusiasts, fans and collectors. The bike is the 4,000,000th bike built at the plant in York, Pa., the company’s largest manufacturing facility.
Shingler was attending a hog rally in Florida a few weeks ago when he visited the Leesburg showroom and picked it out without knowing its significance.
“We were told this was a special bike,” he said.
Shingler said the store’s owner was vague about defining “special.” After a few days, Shingler decided to pull the trigger and purchase it.
“When we put our deposit down, they said you can’t take the bike and you have to tell us when you’re going to pick it up,” Shingler said.
On Tuesday, Shingler and his wife headed back south to pick up the bike armed with the recent knowledge of the bike’s special feature. A few days ago they finally caught wind of why the bike was important to the company.
“How lucky can you be? It’s like winning the lottery. What are the chances you come across a bike this significant?” Shingler said.
Shingler is just the type of rider Harley Davidson leaders wanted to bestow the honor of ownership, according to Malik, who said the company’s leaders had worried about what would happen if word got out about the bike.
“Collectors would come buy it and try to re-sell it. They wanted it to go to a regular rider,” Malik said.
Shingler has been riding Harleys since 2007 and averages 7,000 miles a year. “That bike was a collector’s item before it ever hit the floor. There won’t ever be a 4,000,000th Harley Davidson bike made again. That’s a one-time deal,” Shingler said.
Shingler even got to speak to the plant manager over the phone, who told Shingler that he and his wife will soon get an expense-paid trip up to tour the plant where his “baby” was born.
Malik said he believes the bike is probably worth double its value but estimates collectors would pay even more if they could get their hands on it. Don’t think the Harley will be encased in Plexiglas anytime soon though, according to Shingler, who said he intends to put miles on the bike.
“I’m waiting on the phone call from Jay Leno saying he’d give me $2 million for it,” he joked.
Even then, Shingler doesn’t think he could part ways with his “new baby” and his ticket to hog heaven.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.