Fonzie’s Triumph custom fetches almost $250k USD at auction

Photo: Bonhams

Aaaaayyyy! Fans of the 1974-1984 sitcom Happy Days might be happy to know one of their familiar friends has re-surfaced. We’re talking about the Triumph Trophy 500 that Arthur Fonzarelli rode in the show. It hit the auction block last week, and sold for $231,562 USD.

Fonzarelli (maybe better-known as Fonzie or The Fonz) rode the 1949-model machine for most of the show’s run, although he had a Shovelhead for some scenes, and other bikes were reportedly involved as well (and over-dubbing often left the four-stroke Triumph sounding like a two-stroke). The Fonz’s bike was a mild custom job, with handlebars changed out, the front fender removed, a silver paint job on the tank and other minor tweaks. Legendary California stuntman/racer Bud Ekins put the bike together for the show (along with two others, which were stolen when production ended).

After filming ceased in the mid-’80s, Fonzie’s bike ended up at an Oakland Brit bike specialist, where ownership intended to use it for a donor for other machines. However, a magazine story about the bike convinced him otherwise; eventually, it hit the auction market a couple of times over the past decade or so. Last time it was up for sale in 2018, owners expected $200,000 US. Now, they’ve well exceeded that mark.

It’s a lot of money for the machine, but it’s a classic vintage bike with period-correct customization, plus the Bud Ekins tie-in, plus the years of exposure as a pop culture icon on television. If there was ever a bike that was destined to bring in big bucks, this would be it. Never mind that Henry Winkler, the guy who played Fonzie on the show, was terrified of bikes, and couldn’t actually ride the thing—any time you see him moving along on the bike in the show, it’s only coasting.

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