You all have heard of the Wheels Through Time Museum, right? Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina's stretch of the Smoky Mountains, the museum is home to hundreds of rare, antique American motorcycles and thousands of pieces of related memorabilia. The museum also runs a pretty good YouTube series called The Drive For History. Published weekly, each video runs 15-20 minutes and features one of the museum's almost 400 running antique bikes. Some things you've seen before, some things—like the legendary Traub—are super rare or one of a kind, and some, like the machine featured in this video, are weird beyond words. Behold, a 1916 Harley factory-built sidecar rig designed to be driven from the sidecar!
One of the first things Matt—the show host and son of the museum's founder—tells us about this bike is that it's one of a kind. Then he tells us that he has no idea who it was built for or why. Then it gets really weird. The bike itself is a bog-standard 1916 J Model, albeit an amazingly well-preserved one. The sidecar is a double-wide two-seater with a convertible top, mounted to what looks like half of a horse-drawn carriage. At a glance, it's a pretty standard period sidecar rig. Looking closer, though, you can see that it has some, shall we say, special modifications.
For some reason that's lost to time, the boys down at Juneau Avenue converted the rig so that it could be controlled from the sidecar. The bike has no seat, the handlebars are these weird, custom, offset dealies, and all the foot and hand controls were transferred over to the hack. A host of custom shafts, gears, levers, chains, and other mechanical gubbins was installed to allow for the relocated controls, and even the carburetor was switched to the bike's right side for ease of access. You really have to see this thing to believe it.
Make yourself some time and watch this video. Matt gives a great overview of the bike and what bits of history he knows. At the end, he even... you know what? I'm not gonna spoil it for you. Just grab a drink, get comfy, and watch. You'll be glad you did.