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Glenn Pope
Provo, Utah
1965 Pacers

Hi, I’m Glenn Pope. My brother Steve and I were HHC members back in the newsletter days. My original member number is 871 and I still have a stack of newsletters from back in the day. I presently live in Provo, UT and own two 1965 Pacers that I obtained from Steve before his untimely passing from cancer in 2000.

Click on pictures to enlarge

Here is some information and stories about our ‘56 Hummer, “El Zagal”, our first Harley:

The Best Surprise Ever

In 1960 our family was living on a cattle ranch in the Big Hole Basin in southwestern Montana. We were young teens, close in age and friendship and one of our top interests was Harley motorcycles. I don’t remember anything else about our monthly issues of “Boys Life” except the Harley advertisements for Hummers, Toppers, Super 10s, and larger bikes. We studied them religiously. The only bikes our friends had were an occasional Cushman scooter, which were fun enough but didn’t have the charisma of a motorcycle. Especially a Harley. One day our Dad came home from a trip to Butte and told us he had a surprise for us in the trunk of the car. We had no idea what he was talking about, but headed out immediately to check it out. There, to our great thrill and amazement was a white Harley Hummer that our Dad had somehow laid in the trunk, with part of the rear wheel and fender protruding out! But figuring out how he got the bike in there wasn’t a huge challenge, since Chryslers of that vintage had huge trunks. He had purchased it from a future business partner who was involved in the Shriners organization and had driven the bike in parades and at gatherings for that organization. “El Zagal”, as the bike came to be called, got its name from an English-style identification plate on top of the front fender, where those words were boldly stenciled. That is the Shriners motif and can be seen on their temple or shrine in North Dakota. The words mean something like a young, brave, adventurous kid. El Zagal (the bike) was very parade worthy, decked out with chrome rims, muffler and headlight, and sported decorative fender tips, crash bars, rear fender seat pad and saddle bags and even a large chrome siren mounted to the fork plate just above the handlebars. Regrettably, the siren was lost in a subsequent move.

California, here we come!

Riding the bike on Montana dirt roads was challenging enough, but the worst part was that the bike constantly stalled out and died, which came as no surprise as soon as we gazed into the gas tank and beheld all the rust and varnish that had built up there. We loved Montana, which was very beautiful with snow covered mountains and great fishing, though, back then it had long, challenging winters with deep snow and often minus 30, or 40 and occasionally lower temperatures. Not good conditions for motorcycle enthusiasts! So, when we moved in the Fall of ‘61 to warm and sunny Southern California, Steve and I knew we had hit pay dirt, the “mecca” of motorcycling! In fact, one of the first sights we beheld, after descending into L.A, was seven to ten young men in ivy league dress (no helmets), each riding a fully dressed Harley 74 with chrome gleaming, fringe blowing in the breeze as they cruised up and down the boulevard, plunging their bikes into the deep but grassy ravine dividing the highway to turn around and head the other direction. What a thrilling sight! Rathbun Harley Davidson in Pomona was one of our hangouts. Mr. Rathbun got tired of watching me sit on and drool over a new, green Scat sitting in the showroom. So, he finally asked if I would like to try it out. Does a cat have whiskers, or what?! And what a difference in power between the Scat and El Zagal. That made my day. Just wish I had had the money to plunk down to buy that bike! Steve had the same experience, only with a Sportster. Mr. Rathbun asked a mechanic to stop his work and take him for a ride on it. What red carpet treatment we had! Skip Fordyce Harley Davidson in Riverside was another one of our haunts. I could write for another hour about the sights and experiences we had at these shops, but will spare you the details. It was just great fun to head to one of them on a given Saturday and spend time. We did, soon enough, purchase a beautiful, full-dress green/white ‘56 FLH, but that is another story for another forum.

Limitations of a Hummer

We finally resolved El Zagal’s gas tank problem, flushing it with muriatic acid and keeping fresh oiled gas in the tank. So it became roadworthy to commute to and from highschool and other shorter excursions and we rode and enjoyed it a lot. The picture shows Steve on El Zagal in front of Upland Highschool where we attended. But in 1960’s fast-paced California traffic, I’ll just say El Zagal was challenged as a road bike. We got the idea of taking the muffler off and riding on some of the brushy but open landscape that existed around Upland at that time. Interestingly, that gave the bike a lot of low end torque and it was fun peeling out in the dirt. We had many noteworthy experiences with El Zagal, but the trip to Joshua Tree Park probably topped them all. As I remember, Steve was out of the country and I got adventurous one weekend and announced to our Mom that I was planning a day trip to Joshua Tree Park in the area of Palm Springs and Indio. She was quite concerned since I was probably only 15 at the time, but she cautiously allowed me to proceed. El Zagal had been running fine enough and I thought that by leaving early enough Saturday morning I would make it OK, considering the bike’s top speed of 45-50 mph (on flatlands with no headwind). And, following my carefully mapped out course, heading East on Mission Blvd, I became even more confident as the bike seemed to carry me along effortlessly until reaching the Park. And, even the scenic drive through the Park went well. It was not until I started home later that afternoon that I realized just why the trip out there had been so easy: The wind had been to my back the whole way! As So. Cal. residents know, that inland wind really picks up in the late afternoon. I was done for! I could barely muster 15 to 20 mph on that busy highway and leaning down on the gas tank like a board track racer didn’t help much at all. I learned that day that Hummers are strictly neighborhood putting-around bikes just like the Harley ads showed them to be and that I should have stayed home “in the neighborhood”! I had read a motorcycle magazine road test of a Hummer and distinctly remember the author’s use of the words “complaining honks from impatient motorists” who happened to get trapped behind him on his test drive. My experience gave new meaning to those words! Of course, there were no cell phones back then and no pay phones in sight where I could call for someone to rescue me with their pickup or El Camino. So, remembering the trick of removing the muffler to gain torque, I gave it a try, only to realize that gaining low end torque means you surrender high end speed. Don’t understand how that works, but I was “powerfully” moving right along at a top speed of, you guessed it, 15 to 20 mph! I replaced the muffler and finally, by some kind of Providence, made it home that night, much later than I had told my Mom, who, understandably, had been greatly worried. No wonder I later ended up giving El Zagal to a friend as a downpayment, plus $400, my whole summer’s paycheck, to buy a Sportster CH he was selling. That bike was a screaming demon, having been modified with 11:1 compression, higher lift cam etc.

Where is El Zagal?

After high school, my brother and I essentially went different directions, myself ending up in Utah and he in Washington. Both of us continued to have strong nostalgia for Harley lightweights and Steve had collected these nice, original Pacers prior to his death. The white Pacer reminds me a lot of El Zagal, being painted white (probably not a regular factory color) with chrome wheelrims. Maybe it was used by the Shriners as well? It has a 1980 South Carolina license plate. I often wonder what became of El Zagal and that is one of the reasons I wanted to touch base on the HHC, to determine if any members have or have knowledge of the bike. The guy I traded it to was Nick Waite, from Ontario California and the year was likely 1963. I realize a lot can happen to a bike in 57 years, but you never know and the HHC members would have to be the best resource I have.

Hope you enjoyed this read, Glenn Pope 2020

  Last updated: August 31, 2020 Up