1939 Knucklehead

Sal-logo-wide_4 (2)Story by Lee Sheridan

Back in his hey-day – Sal Caliguri – owned a 46 Knuckehead, which he eventually sold. Although he owned many motorcycles since selling the Knuck over 35 years ago, the idea of buying another was always lingering in the back of his mind. Fast forward to present day – the opportunity to purchase a 39 Knucklehead chopper came knocking and Sal opened the door. The engine was immediately shipped off to Bill Johnson in Chicago were it underwent a full rebuild punching it out to 80 cubic inches. Breathing new life into the heart of this blast from the past included 30 over pistons, hydra-glide lifters and an S&S carb. Even though the engine packed a huge punch, which pacified Sal for a while, he wanted to take his 39 Knucklehead back to its roots, so began a stock restoration with a twist, which Sal describes as a stock look with a modern edge. No denying that the bike was a pretty cool looking chopper, but Sal claims his reincarnated ride is much nicer the way it is now and certainly more comfortable with the pogo seat helping to absorb the bounce hard tails are known to deliver.

When this Knuck was in chopper form it had a jockey shifter, during the restoration Sal changed it back to the tank shifter, which is original. “It has the foot clutch making it a bit of a handful to ride, till you get used to it. Not many guys who ride today could get on this bike and take off. For me, it’s the only way to ride”, said Sal.

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1939 Knucklehead Reincarnation

Photos by G-Man

Owner: Sal Caliguri

Hometown: Long Island, NY

Sal’s Rods & Customs

Riverhead, NY


Builder: Sal’s Auto Body

St James, NY




1939 Knucklehead H-D EL

Assembly: Charlie Favata – Sal’s Auto Body

Mock-up: Sal Caliguri, Bill Duignan – Sal’s Auto Body Shop



Builder: V-Twin

Type: Paughco Springer

Extension: Stock



Rebuilder: Bill Johnson, Chicago

Displacement: 80 cu. In.

Lower End: 80” Flathead crank

Pistons: 30 over


Transmission: 3 speed stock



Year: 2000

Designer: Paughco



Bars: Speedsters

Fenders: V-Twin, modified

Gas Tank: Fat Boy

Oil Tank: MAS

Seat: V-Twin Police Solo w/pogo

Exhaust & gaskets: Bill Duignan – Sal’s Auto Body



Front & Rear: 16” Avon Tires, V-Twin Wheels



Bodywork/Molding: David Parra – Sal’s Auto Body

Painter: Mike Roddo

Color: Key Lime under Liquid Crystal

Design: Sal Caliguri

Polishing: Livio Moreno

Brush Artists: John the painter, Nelson Medina

Mural: 1939 Pinup girl rendered by John Aristi