AEE Choppers "BIG TWIN" has reappeared
by Dave Brackett, October 2011
While I was working at AEE Choppers in late 1969, we had a meeting and decided to build a new wild chopper style three wheeler, or actually a five wheeler. We wanted to return to the Oakland Roadster Show, and again win the Grand Sweepstakes Award like AEE did in 1969, with the "Corvair Trike". The concept was to use two new Sportster motors, side by side, an automatic tranny with reverse, and four wheels accross the rear. It was to have a full body with a roof over the passengers. I drew plans and Tom liked them, so we started collecting materials and parts to start the project. After getting two new motors from Harley, a servicar rear end, a C4 Ford automatic tranny, and the necessary tubing, I was ready to start. I had 32 days to build the bike, and get it painted before the show. The bike was finished on schedule, and as they were loading it in the trailer, I built a turntable to use at the show.
The bike was a huge success, and we won the grand sweepstakes award again, in February of 1970. A year or so later, the paint started to blister and the springer style front end, started to bend from the extra weight of the two motors and steel body. We had the bike repainted, and built a new girder style front end to support the extra weight. The bike was originally painted in reds, with silver and gold trim. Now it was in purples, with colorfull panels of green and yellow. The bike was used for many AEE functions and spent most of its time in our showroom, or at trade shows.
In late 1971, the bike was sold to Missouri bike show promoter Ray Fahrner. He used the "Big Twin" to help draw in customers to his bike show circuit. The five wheeler was a great draw. Ray met Don Connelly, who was promoting shows in the Denver area. They worked together doing some shows, and Ray reportedly gave Don the "Big Twin".
Don, and friend Paul Skinner, decided to change the bike to increase its show appeal. Paul contacted me around 1981, to get info about building "Big Twin". That was the last time I heard about "Big Twin". Internet motorcycle chat rooms talk a lot about "Big Twin", but it's whereabouts has been unknown for over twentyfive years. There were reports that it had been on e-bay several years ago, but that could not be confirmed.
In the summer of 2011, "Big Twin" was for sale on E-bay. It had a starting bid of $5000.00, but did not recieve any bid. I contacted the owner, Jerry Whitley, of Canon City, Colorado. He has had the bike for ninteen years. He bought it from Don Connelly. Photos showed it was realtively unchanged, except for a different front end, and the upper part of the frame behind the neck had been removed, to install a blower. Jerry had intended to restore the bike but never got around to it. The running gear seems to be original, but the motors have not run for probably twentyfive plus years. Parts of the upholstery are missing, the exhaust pipes are gone, the carbs are gone, but all in all, it seems decent for being 41 plus years old.
In October 2011, Jerry sold the "Big Twin" to a private collector, who plans to restore the bike and display it, with other bikes, in a motorcycle museum in Las Vegas. "Big Twin" in currently at the Bones Legacy Motorcycle Shop in Las Vegas, with work underway for complete restoration.
We all look forward to seeing the onetime hallmark of "AEE Choppers" back in it's original condition.
NOTE: pictures as Big Twin currently looks....superb for 41 years later!