In pop culture history, some vehicles take on a life of their own. Even if you’re not interested in cars, bikes, or Corellian Engineering Corp. YT-1300 light freighters, these are the kinds of vehicles that become inextricably intertwined with a beloved piece of visual entertainment in your mind. Think of the wide range of Batmobiles over the years, or the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, or Steve McQueen’s Triumph TR6 from the Great Escape.
Now, another extremely famous Triumph is about to cross the auction block in December, 2021. Like many production-used vehicles, the crew on the Happy Days TV series had more than one Triumph made up for Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli to ride as needed. One was a 1952 Triumph TR5 that was the Fonz’s primary rider on the show, and which still had the dents to prove it as of 2020. (According to show lore, actor Henry Winkler wasn’t a particularly skilled rider, and so crashed more than once while shooting scenes.)
A total of three Triumphs are known to have been used to shoot the Happy Days series, and it’s the 1949 Triumph Trophy 500 Custom that’s included in a Bonhams auction on December, 8, 2021. TCM Presents … Hollywood Cool, unfortunately, doesn’t have a full auction catalogue available just yet. At the moment, this Fonzie Triumph is the only motorcycle listed, with most items being other assorted bits of Hollywood memorabilia. If you’re a massive Happy Days fan, though, it’s probably worth noting that a complete Fonzie outfit from the show, as worn by Henry Winkler, is offered as a separate auction lot.
This particular bike first made its way to auction via Bonhams in 2011, after having been rediscovered after vanishing for some time after the TV show ended in 1984. Legendary Hollywood stuntman Bud Ekins customized it, and that’s yet another similarity between this Triumph and McQueen’s Great Escape bike. At the time, Ekins was The Guy that Hollywood productions went to for all their motorbike needs.
Anyway, this bike later went on to sell for an astonishing $179,200 at a Julien’s Auctions Hollywood Legends event in Las Vegas in 2018, and it’s now back on the market in 2021. Currently, Bonhams estimates it will sell for anywhere between $80,000 and $120,000, but time will tell how this particular sale shakes out.