Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to 3,000+ Reviews, Guides, & More

Fonzie’s Triumph motorcycle up for auction

Fonzie's Triumph Trophy TR5
Fonzie's Triumph Trophy TR5

Fonzie’s Triumph motorcycle is going up for auction in the United States on March 8 … or is it?

Fonzie's Triumph Trophy TR5
Fonzie’s Triumph Trophy TR5

The bike ridden by Henry Winkler who played Arthur Fonzarelli (Fonzie or the Fonze) in the Happy Days TV series is one of several rare bikes being auctioned as part of the 2014 Festivals of Speed in Eustis, Florida. It’s a 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5 Scrambler Custom which is one of several bikes the Fonze used in the hit 1970s series set in the 1950s.

The early Fonzie bikes were actually Harleys. There was a Knucklehead, Panhead and possibly a Sportster. However, Winkler could not ride and found the Harleys too heavy to handle. He blamed his inability to co-ordinate clutch, brake and throttle on his dyslexia, but that hasn’t hindered the dyslexic Charley Boorman!

To accommodate his non-riding talents the Happy Days production crew switched to the much lighter Triumph. It started out fairly standard, even down to the “castrator” tank rack. However it was gradually customised by removing the rack – just as well as Fonzie crashed several times during shooting – adding ape-hanger bars as many Americans did back then, a bobbed front fender and switching from a bullet-holed muffler to pea-shooters. At one stage the bike was owned by Hollywood stuntman Bud Ekins who did the famed Great Escape jump for Steve McQueen. It has since been through several hands.

There may have been several other Fonzie bikes, including rumours of a BSA, but it is difficult to prove as often only a small portion of the bike was in shot. Because of his inability to ride, most scenes with Fonzie on a bike were stationary scenes with him sitting on it, so you rarely see a full shot of the bike in motion.

In one of the late seasons there is another Fonzie bike, but the model is unclear. His friends buy him the bike after he crashes his, but it is only on screen for a few seconds and it is difficult to identify. It looks like a customised Triumph with slightly extended forks. Some say it is a Trophy 650.

But the most-loved and best-known of all is the TR5 which is going to auction. Meanwhile, Fonzie’s Brando-style leather jacket is on display in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington.

  1. Next best thing in custom bikes ……well i read the article and it says nothing about whats next in custom bikes . the only thing it says about “the next” big thing is all about what the mfg’s are putting out . Next big thing to who ? guys actually customizing bikes ? to find out id look deeper into who real is customizing bikes these days . The Japanese for one are doing great things , as you know or are hopefully are aware is the different subcultures in motorcycling all different all doing there own stuff . get your head out of the sales brochures and into real stuff then you’d know .

    1. Do you mean this story: with the title “What’s the next big thing in custom bikes?”
      I see all types of bikes being customised which is great. Even a Transalp turned into a scrambler! I believe Monsters and other early ’90s bikes will be the next big thing in Australia because they are already taking off overseas. But what will be the next big thing? I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball. That’s why I’m asking in the heading and the article. Maybe as a substantially big collective of motorcycle enthusiasts we can work it out. I agree, the answer isn’t in the brochures, but the workshops. Unfortunately too many of them follow trends rather than make them. Deus has stalled and even Roland Sands is starting to look tired. C’mon, what’s your pick?

  2. I’d like to bring this message up to date. I owned the motorcycle from August 25, 2012 until Feb. 2015 having won it in a promotion drawing at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Fl. It did not sell at the Feb. 2014 auction as it did not reach the reserve, however, I sold it at a higher price than the bid at the auction.

  3. What’s with the airy, skeptical tone regarding Henry Winkler? He “claimed” that dyslexia prevented him from riding the bike? Oh, but here’s this other chap who was mightily dyslexic, but see how he bravely overcame the odds. I’ve seen Henry Winkler talk about this; he says he wished he could’ve ridden the bike properly, but couldn’t. He also comes across as quite a decent guy. Maybe we’re skeptical of that too?

Comments are closed.