You really have to hand it to guys like James Fedor: It’s impossible to look at this Ford V8-60 flathead-powered motorcycle and not see a lot of what made the U.S. a great country. Thrift, for one thing. Stainless-steel’s expensive, but the stainless canisters they sell in the kitchen department at Wal-Mart are only $8. James bought two, welded them together, and had a lovely oil tank for his dry-sump Ford Motor Company Guzzi special.
If the circa-1937, 135-cubic-inch V8-60 (“60” was for its horsepower rating) was a little underpowered in an automobile, it’s much less so when pushing this 730-pound motorcycle around—especially with the mechanical advantage provided by the Guzzi five-speed gearbox. To keep the wheelbase short, Fedor snugged the transmission right up onto the Ford’s flywheel. Another thing that keeps it short (and cheap) is mounting the radiators in the “saddlebags” (after having sourced the rads, gratis, from a pile of unused items at a nearby tractor factory Fedor’s done business with).
Also unlike the original flathead’s archaic design—a vented-to-atmosphere crankcase and no oil filter—Fedor’s crankcase is sealed and features an oil filter, which means the engine will last a long time. He played with a MegaSquirt EFI system before deciding, “Hey wait a minute, I’m 72 years old. I don’t want to learn everything about everything,” and settled on a reproduction Stromberg 81 carburetor with one-inch venturis instead. He did go with a Mallory electronic ignition. Runs great, starts right up, he says.
Until he retired a few years ago, Fedor ran a machine shop from his home in Mantua, Ohio, where he also did tool-and-die work, manufacturing, etc.—so it was no big deal for him to bend up the bike’s frame from one-inch heavy-wall steel. Nor was it difficult to split a Honda 750 fuel tank down the middle and widen it by five inches or so—just the right width to go with those flat heads. The front end’s from a ’48 Indian Chief, the handlebars and controls are Harley, the fenders and final drive are from the same donor Guzzi, taillights and turnsignals and things are a mix of Indian and other parts found on eBay.
It’s a fun bike, says James, just to take to shows and stand around and start conversations: “After a lengthy pause, someone will invariably ask, ‘What year did Ford make these anyway?’ And that’s really a great compliment.”
And an accurate one. Unlike most V-Eight bikes we’ve seen, Jim Fedor’s flathead Ford Guzzi looks least like somebody shoved a car engine into a motorcycle. It looks like something you could hop on and ride right back to about 1937. Nice work.