Neal Michal has been a long time friend of Bike-urious, and he kindly offered to share a tale of his recent visit to the Lake Hills Motorcycle Museum. Read on to see why it should be on your list of motorcycle temples to visit!
Motorcycle Museum – Lake Hill Motors
Words and Photos by Neal Michal
Every once in a while in life, you stumble across an amazing place rich with motorcycle history. Let me tell you about a gem. Lake Hill Motors is located in Corinth, Mississippi, about an hour east of Memphis. Duane McLemore is the proprietor. He has over 150 rare motorcycles on display in his purpose-built museum inside of his dealership, most of which he personally restored in his spare time. All of the bikes are ready to run, but many have been mothballed for preservation.
First the back story: Duane’s father started the business in 1962 doing small engine repair. They became a dealer for Bridgestone motorcycles in the early 1960’s; Yamaha in 1965; and Honda in late 1967. They recently celebrated a 50 year anniversary with Honda. They are not the oldest Honda dealership in the states, but they are close.
At the age of 10, Duane’s father bought him a Hiawatha Doodlebug. He has been riding, racing, and restoring bikes ever since. He turned AMA pro around 1971, and then raced professionally for more than a decade (AMA# 51, 99, & 151). Duane won one AMA dirt track national at Talladega that earned him $1,500. At the time a new car was $3,000. He placed second in 1974 at Daytona on a 1967 Bridgestone 175. It was a basket case scrambler model before he converted it to a road racer with full fairings. Both bikes are on display with his well-used race leathers.
Duane has an affinity for early production bikes with low VIN numbers. Here is a quick overview to whet your appetite:
How many “Sandcast” 1969 Honda 750’s have you ever seen in your life? Duane has two. His blue one was made in the first week of production (#316 of ~7,000 sandcast models). He will be taking it to Barber Vintage Bike meet next weekend (Oct 5-7). You can see it at his booth # C-25. Book your travel now and bring a fat wad of Benjamins if you would like to buy it. Yes, it will be in the auction! His second model is red and is in the mid 3,200’s for VIN numbers.
In 1968 Honda built 10 pre-production versions of the soon-to-be-released 350 twin. #8 was selected as the final production choice. Yes – Duane owns it. (VIN# 1000008) It has 2.8 miles from being pushed around motorcycle shows. It has never been started and is in perfect condition.
I’ll highlight several other notable motorcycles on display starting with the oldest.
1901 Steffey motor bike engine mounted on a Featherstone model F bicycle with wooden rims. This bike is one year older than the oldest bike at the Barber Museum. According to online articles, this is the first year a motor was attached to a bicycle in the United States. (Gottleib Daimler gets the credit for the first one in 1885 but it was not rideable as a bike or a motorcycle).
1917 Cleveland A-2 Lightweight – 2½ HP two stroke with a 2 speed transmission. Top speed of 35-40mph. Duane rode this bike in one of the first Cannonball Runs and it won the oldest bike award at the 6th annual Barber Vintage Festival.
1921 Royal Enfield with the upgraded Vickers V-twin engine – all original except the tires, chain, and a small hose to feed the acetylene lamp.
1926 Indian Big Chief – Side valve V twin with 74 c.i. Top speed of 75mph. Duane bought this at an auction at Daytona. He did not intend to buy it, however everyone knows the correct number of motorcycles is one more than you currently have.
1937 Flying Scott Squirrel – “thermosiphon” water cooled two stroke twin. Capable of 70mph with a three speed.
1937 Zundapp confiscated by the Americans from the Nazi’s during WWII. Duane had been watching it for 20 years before he purchased it from another collector.
1954 Honda Dream Type 4E – The Dream (Type D) was the first four stroke motorcycle by Honda. The Type 4E was their first attempt to add multiple valves. The Type 4E adds a second exhaust valve. Duane loaned this bike to the Barber Museum so they could finish their 3E they now have on display (one exhaust valve).
1970 Kawasaki H1 – Blue. The original hooligan bike of the 70’s. I have owned four H2’s and have always wanted an H1.
1975 Honda Gold Wing – first year, in blue. It looks remarkably small and agile compared to the many 2018 models Duane has on display in front of his dealership. It should – it weighs 200 pounds less.
1996 Ducati 955SP – It looks like a first generation 916 which is considered the most beautiful bike ever made. However this bike was built for one purpose – to win championships in the hands of riders such as Carl Fogarty and Troy Bayliss. It is #2 of 50 built that year and was previously owned by Jim Cook.
The last two entries are out of sequence with respect to the year of production.
1979 Honda CBX – I graduated from high school when this bike came out. I always wanted one. He has several. I think it still looks better than the latest incarnation from BMW.
1982 Honda Big Red powered by a CBX motor – Duane and his crew stretched the original ATC110 frame over a foot to fit a CBX motor from a bike he bought back with only 500 miles on the clock. His crew named it the “Booger Bear”. He ran it in dirt drags, sand drags and tractor pulls. He was crazy enough to run it down the 1/8th mile. He ran 7.03s at 113mph – on the original all terrain tires rated for 35mph! What could have gone wrong? It is now on display where it belongs with the man with the audacity to build it, ride it and display it.
Stop by the shop some time, but don’t be in a hurry. There is a lot to take in.