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Poet's Pan... from an insider on the movie

Memories of a patch-holder (and co-founder of a Californian MC) and an extra on HAOW and many other biker b-movies of the 1960s-'70s...

This may not be news to you, but I have an ongoing obsession with Jack Nicholson's Panhead from the sixties movie 'Hells Angels on Wheels'. I know... a bit weird; I looked past all those great early HA choppers and focused on the nearly-stock beater. Typical.

Anyways, Nicholson plays garage attendant 'Poet' who falls in with a group of Hells Angels and gets up to some sixties-style high jinx. No doubt you know the rest.

Years ago I put a post on the blog and the Jockey Journal asking for any information or images of Nicholson's bike; and just last week I got an amazing reply from someone who was a patch-holder (and co-founder of a Californian MC) and an extra on HAOW and many other biker b-movies of the 1960s-'70s. I don't want to let too much out of the bag while I talk to the guy involved, but I am hoping to bring his reminiscences to a feature-length article in GKM soon.

But for now, here's a little of what he had to remember about Poet's Pan: "It was a very generic chopper with a stock glide and just enough chopper parts to make it look like a low-dollar chopper. When the movie was shot, extended front ends had just started, and a one foot over fork was about the longest. Nobody was making one piece extended forks so extending a springer or a glide was limited to available resources. Poet's bike was rented. The guy that rented the bikes died just a few years after the filming, and I don't know what happened to the rental bikes. I wouldn't be surprised if the original bike was passed on with no documentation. It was just a movie rental chopper..."

To be continued.

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  • Man, this is one of my favorites too! And why? Probably his moderate appearance, and the fact I could never find anything decent on the bike. I still think the bike was perfectly cast as the Chopper from a guy working at the gas station. Looking forward!!

  • Excellent stuff, bring it on Sherlock !!