Godspeed, Master British Bike Restorer, Don Harrell

Godspeed, Master British Bike Restorer, Don Harrell

The first time attending the Mecum Motorcycle Auction in 2018, I froze in my tracks gasping at a group of exquisite BSA and Triumph motorcycles. These restoration projects were amazing and all of them looked better today then they did when they were first sold in the 60’s. 

The bikes were the work of Don Harrell, a retired contractor and former dirt track racer living in Visalia, California. He may have been retired, but he was busier than ever restoring British motorcycles to perfection. I looked forward to seeing Don’s work every year at the Mecum Auctions. 

Last year I tracked Don down and asked if he would work on my ’65 Bonnie. My bike is clean, but a master like Don could bring it to the next level. He wasn’t interested and turned down my request quickly. His curt response had me wondering if the guy didn’t like me or if I had said something to offend him. 

Scanning through the 2021 Mecum Vegas Auction catalog, I was so bummed to see “From The Estate of Don Harrell” listed in the special lots. Don had passed less than a year after our meeting. It wasn’t that he didn’t like me, it was that he must have known time was running out.

I’m sorry I won’t be seeing Don at future auctions. The motorcycle world has lost one of its best. I can only hope  his collection will earn the big bucks that each bike deserves. Godspeed, Don. 

Attracting a crowd: I felt sorry for sellers who had their bikes displayed next to Don (in the green shirt). His bikes caused a bottleneck of British bike fans drooling on his offerings.