Hickory Flats Hot Rods’ Memphis Magnum

Written by  Story By Johnny Pants Photos By Jack “Of Course I’m Magnum, You?” Cofano Friday, 13 November 2015 16:34
Published in Choppers
  Personally, I’ve never met Freddie Arnold, the man behind Hickory Flats Hot Rods in Canton, Georgia, but I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on who he is and where he comes from when it comes to custom motorcycles anyway. In my opinion, he’s a simple yet complex man when it comes to building bikes with more than enough good taste and talent to turn out whatever hew wants too, but don’t ask him to do a bagger or something with a 124-inch S&S engine never mind an Ultima.



   He only, repeat only, works on pre-1985 Harley-Davidsons and even if you offered him a pile of money to build a Twin Cam something-or-other, I’m pretty sure he’d walk away. He’s a diehard Shovelhead freak with a side-liking of Panheads, Knuckleheads, and Ironheads, but that’s it baby. He knows what he likes and knows who he is and he’s totally happy with that. Plus he’s got a streak of appreciation and understanding for the ‘60s/’70s that shows through his builds without trying in any way to be, “Hey, I’m Old School cool!” even though that’s an aesthetic he’s kinda stuck on in this wild build.


   Apparently this whole thing started with a 1947 Harley and blew up from there. Like any real Old School chopper, the engine was as important as the rest of the build. No disappointment here as Freddie came up with an engine/drivetrain called the Magnum 45 that looks like it almost might have been made from a Harley word jumble on somebody’s refrigerator. Like The Bride of Frankenstein, the seemingly-unholy wedding of a bottom end of a 1947 Flathead (I can only guess Flatheads are okay to work with too) to the top end of a 1969 Sportster created this unusual monster that must have had its mechanical love/hate moments just like Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein. Unlike those two cut-ups, Freddie’s shrewdly engineered end result couldn’t look more natural and would be highly sought after today if it had been somehow been of OEM origin. It’s a looker.


  Somehow a ’64 Panhead transmission got dragged into the mix and I’m sure there’s a good story behind it, but damned if I know it. It just fits into the build perfectly and has the correct Harley genealogy Freddie demands. A narrow open belt drive looks the biz and anything that skinny you’d think had to be old. The longer Harley-related stuff stays around, the fatter and bigger it gets just like everything that is wonderfully American. Sometimes big is just too big and a four-inch belt drive would kill the whole vibe of this bike in second.


   A kicker and a magneto are sure to give the real Old School vibe to this ride along with what I think are two carbs mounted under the pointed triangular air cleaner. From photos I’ve seen online, this engine has worn a number of setups from an S.U. to dualies and some others in-between. Maybe I just want this one to have the cool twin-carbs as this engine deserves crazy cool induction. It’s already got a bit of crazy cool after-the-combustion-fact exhaust pipes that travel around the perimeter of the right-side of the frame before dropping the bomb(s) fairly close to the King & Queen’s hearing canal. All very period and probably why I get some much junk snail mail today about hearing aids nobody can supposedly see.


    I don’t know what the frame is, but I sure know it’s wild. Modified ’47 or a bent tubing special, it makes its point without me caring what it was or is. Nutty dimensions of the ‘60s and ‘70s make you look at it even if you might just be a little scared to ride it. It’s well built but not necessarily true to Old School form. By that I mean there’s fine craftsmanship and metalwork going on without the gallons of Bondo slathered on most real Old School rides to cover up the metal hell going on underneath. It was rare to see a chopper back then where it wasn’t cracking or just chunking off by the headstock. Now that’s Old School.


   With the reaching for the sky attitude of Memphis Magnum, it’s only fitting that it had a stretched narrow springer up front while the stacked rectangular twin headlights polishes off the look. Funny how I wasn’t too much of a fan of those back in the day, but I like ‘em now and they look great here. Freddie’s rolling stock is retro-cool Invader mags front and rear with the front brakeless as expected and the rear mechanical drum is the only brake show in town. Same retro-cool goes for the rubber the Invaders are wearing that could be some NOS tires or some of the excellent reproductions available today. NOS stuff might sound cool and be something to brag about to somebody else who might care, but fresh modern rubber compounds are really your best friend if you plan on riding this bike under its own power.


  Freddie didn’t miss a trick when it came time to outfit Memphis Magnum with her newly fabricated set of vintage clothes. The exaggerated coffin-style tank has the required points and same goes for the chromed oil tank under the towering white King & Queen seat. That may be the first K&Q seat I’ve seen that actually looks like it might be comfortable. Between the pleating and the piping and the possibly exaggerated hump, it’s a classic piece of kit that always charmed potential passengers while being a crowning showpiece of the bike. Freddie’s take on the ever popular trident-style sissy bar is not for sissies, but someone who’s quite sure of themselves and doesn’t mind a bit of Old School ostentation. Speaking of bars, Freddie’s fabbed up a set that not only looks good and right just sitting there, but inclines the rider just the proper wee bit back in the cool in-the-wind-style of a David Mann painting.


   As always, a chopper is defined by its paint and Memphis Magnum again will not disappoint anyone who has an appreciation for the cool things of life like a ‘60s/’70s chopper paint scheme. There’s just enough of everything from the combo of colors that could only come from that bygone era to the execution of the design. A sparkly blue with a white accent frame pops in combo with the massive white seat while the fuchsia, teal, and orange panel graphic highlights with white pinstriping is a complicatedly simple masterpiece. Throw in  the lovely chrome bits scattered throughout the build for contrast and bling and it’s an Old School winner every time. Freddie kept his design head straight throughout the build and didn’t fall victim to overwhelming nostalgia trying to incorporate anything and everything from “the good old days.” It’s an instant classic of a classic and for lovers of all the old crap, we’re all better for it.


For more info on Hickory Flat Hot Rods, click http://www.hickoryflathotrods.com/ or visit their Facebook page. 

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