Jim’s Dream Harley Came True Too Late

To get an idea of how Jim’s Dream was created, you first need to know the man behind the masterpiece.

JIM Palmer was born in Bathurst 1978 to a loving mother Betty and equally loving father, Terry, who was a mechanic by trade, and from this profession, Jim’s love of all things mechanical was born. Betty will tell you how Jim would pester his father for hours with countless questions about how things worked. Terry would often ask Betty to come get the kid so he could get some work done.

On his way home from school, Jim would call into the local bike shop, firstly to look at the many motorcycles on display, and as time wore on and he became a familiar face in the shop, he would be allowed to venture into the workshop. I am told that on many occasions Jim would give an accurate diagnosis on a motorbike that was not running right.

As Jim got older, he and his father would fix up old motorbikes to ride. Money was hard to come by so a new motorbike was out of the question. Jim would often say, “One day when I have enough money, I will build my very own Harley-Davidson.”

Jim’s father at the age of 22 was diagnosed with neuron-fibro mitosis (elephant man’s disease). He battled with the disease for 18 years but finally passed away at the age of 40.

As the disease is hereditary, tests were done on Jim and, unfortunately, he too was diagnosed with elephant man’s disease. He, however, refused all the standard treatments as he’d seen what his father had gone through and did not want that for himself. He chose to let the disease run its course.

As Jim got older, his condition worsened which prevented him from getting a driver’s licence. Also, he was unable to get out on his trail bike as often.

Then, at the age of 22, Jim was left some money by a family member. This gave him the opportunity to fulfil his dream of building his very own Harley-Davidson.

With his mate, John Speer, Jim went to see Pete Kirkman at Great Western Motorcycles in Kelso (near Bathurst). Jim wanted to see what was available and to get some ideas about what he wanted to create. After many trips (he had to rely on others for transport), a design was finally decided upon and Jim’s Dream began.

Harley-Davidson chopper

There were some minor changes along the way for various reasons, such as some things did not look as good in real life as they did in the catalogues, or were not compatible with other choices made, and there were delays due to Jim becoming increasingly unwell.

At one time Jim contracted pneumonia and spent three months in Westmead Hospital in Sydney; his mother by his side the whole time. John would visit with photos of the Harley to ask for instructions; Jim would make the decisions; John would return to Pete so he could proceed with the bike build.

Jim was transferred to Bathurst Hospital so he could be closer to his family and friends but, tragically, he passed away aged just 28 years old.

Jim did not get to see his dream through to the end; his last decision was the colour of the bike. His next choice was to be the seat so both John and Pete came up with a seat design with the approval of his mother, Betty, resulting in the final product—Jim’s Dream.

The bike will be cared for by John, and maintained by Pete, as were Jim’s wishes. Jim did ask for his bike to be displayed whenever possible—so keep an eye out for Jim’s Dream; it could be coming to a bike show near you.

Harley-Davidson chopper

Pics by George; words by John Speer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button