From that day on, he started a restless journey across the world to search the most remote garages, dilapidated scrapyards and dusty backyards for legendary lost two-wheeled relics. He became a legend – a motorcycle archaeologist.
Every time I make a find of rare bikes, I wonder how to use every single part – because they deserve to be preserved. That is where the idea for ‘The Archaeologist’ emerged: presepreserving the spirit of the old machines in an actual spirit and make it possible to experience the taste. Every detail of the packaging is a meticulous rendition of the packaging technology of the era inwhich the contained bike parts have originally been crafted.
In the 1980s, I heard that the Mexican military police had recently renewed their whole motorcycle fleet. After some research, I discovered this enormous storage area of discarded military vehicles. Garages full of dust, dead rats and old bike parts.
I made a deal for some Shovelheads and Panheads, and right before I was going to leave, I noticed some very rare 1939 Big Flatheads just leaning against a wall. On the inside I was freaking out, but I didn’t want them to recognize that. So I just stopped for one second and said casually, ‘... and I will also take these. Maybe for about half the price of the others? I mean, they’re twice as old.’ They agreed, and I grinned all the the way back home.
Anyone who decides to travel across South America in search of old motorcycles should think about interim storage options. My first one had been the yard of an old friend’s mother. My motorcycles soon surrounded her entire house so that I had to move on in order to prevent an old lady from becoming claustrophobic.
One of my most beloved finds during that time was an ocean-blue 1947 Harley-Davidson FL. It had served as the delivery vehicle of a German pharmacist in Santiago de Chile until his death in 1969. At the first sight of this crazy-coloured rarity, I knew that I would have gladly delivered a single Aspirin all the way down to Tierra del Fuego with it.
In Seoul I was led to a gigantic yard where the Korean police brought all their defective motorcycles: hundreds of bikes from the 1960s, neatly parked in rows and mostly submerged in mud. I was overwhelmed. But before we could seal the deal, the senior police offcials needed to crush a few dozen Harleys right in front of me, just to save face.
Then I was invited to a huge police banquet. After the meal, I was asked to sing a German folksong. The only lyrics that came to mind were the first lines of ‘Hoch auf dem gelben Wagen’. I swallowed hard and started to sing tentatively. But I didn’t get far: After the first lines, the entire hall joined in enthusiastically and totally outsang me. Different strokes for different folks.
The whole product and packaging design recreates the handmade packaging of motorcycle parts in the 30s and 40s, using authentic materials and techniques.
Custom-made clear glass with bottom-side counterbore by Karl Schmid glassworks; original vintage machine part welded on a stainless-steel socket by Wolfrik Fischer studio.
Maren Thomsen, ‚Les Naturals’, sand, anthracite and alabaster white.
Crucible printing press hot foil stamping