I have owned a 1997 Harley Dyna Wide Glide from new and love it to bits! Last year I decided to get a custom paint job done, to make it finally unique……

The Bike

  • Owner: Jon Harris (Scrapper)
  • 1997 Harley-Davidson FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide
  • Engine: 1340 Evo – stock with Stage 1
  • Forks: Standard with Progressive springs
  • Front Wheel: 21” laced – diamond cut polished stainless spokes
  • Front brake: 6-pot Pretech
  • Rear Wheel: 16” chrome slotted Fat Boy
  • Seat: Custom – navy leather with silver-grey stitching
  • Tank: modified, with Kuryakyn fuel gauge & gas cap
  • Chubby bars, braided cables.


The Paint

Riding a motorcycle is my “stress release” – so riding my Harley is “My Great Escape” and this gave me the idea for the theme for my custom paint job, based on the famous war film “The Great Escape” (1963). I wanted a lot of detailed airbrush work of faces that needed to be instantly recognisable. I entrusted this work to Piers Dowell, a very talented guy who has been airbrushing for some 14 years now and has produced some excellent work.

He came up with the idea of the strip of cine film draped across the tank – this has four main frames with images of Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Richard Attenborough and Charles Bronson. Then there are 2 forged papers bearing “photos” of Donald Pleasance and James Garner, complete with fingerprints and German official stamps!

The rear fender has another image of Steve McQueen in German uniform on the motorcycle – together with the three tunnel names (Tom,Dick & Harry) and the camp name – Stalag Luft III.

Piers then produced several “subtleties” (or ghosted images) – where the image is done in monochrome and in a very slightly darker shade than the base colour – in my case here, a light blue. These really have to be seen in real life on the bike because sadly they don’t really show up in normal photographs. Piers chose this style for pictures of Bronson in the tunnel and McQueen doing the bike leap – these can be found on the front faces of the tank, either side. Subtleties on the front fender show the 3 that got away – Coburn on bicycle and the guys getting out of their rowing boat. Other subtleties include strands of barbed wire on tank and fenders. A final touch was to do all the lettering in the same colour (red) and font as the title shots from the original film.

The “plaque” on the front fender dedicates the paint-job to Squadron Leader Eric Foster, RAF – the real-life WW2 habitual escaper – on whom the film character of Hilts (McQueen) was based. He died March 2006 at the age of 102!

A finishing touch was to have the seat re-upholstered and covered in leather. We decided on a navy leather with silver-grey stitching, with the motif “my Great Escape” embroidered on one side. Eric Giddings (of Trimmania, Wokingham) did an excellent job on the seat.

Finally, Nij Jones (N&T Motorcycles) had the unenviable task of re-assembling the bike with the painted tank and fenders – without scratching anything! Did a great job.

The bike attracts quite a bit of attention now and this year (2007) has won several trophies – including Best Paint at the Cider Rally, Spring Fever Rally, the Bulldog Bash and Autumn Blitz.


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