Thor motorcycle returns to Allen County Museum


First Posted: 3/18/2014

LIMA — The vintage 1912 Thor motorcycle returned to the Allen County Museum Tuesday amid a flutter of press. The motorcycle took honors at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. This award was give for the preservation and provenance with the best documented history.

“Ralph Marshall owned the bike until 1980, when he gave it to the Historical Society. It is because of him that this bike exists in its original condition, with original leather seat, paint and decals on the tank,” said museum curator, John Carnes.

Marshall, himself, had distinct honors. He was a former Allen County sheriff, a 1936 Olympian, owner of Marshall Sporting Goods store and a board track racer, which is what the 1912 Thor was used for. Marshall donated the 1912 Thor motorcycle in 1980, along with the original case it was shipped in and original receipt.

“I knew it was rare, but I did not quite know how rare,” Carnes said.

Local motorcycle enthusiast, Dean Edward, was amazed to discover the vintage Thor motorcycle at the museum. He contacted Dale Walksler, CEO of the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum located in Maggie Valley, NC.

“I knew the bike was here. We go to Waseon, and I have stopped here three times poking around and never had seen the motorcycle,” said Walksler. “By 1916, Thor stopped making motorcycles. I am a nut when it comes to this type of history.”

Walksler asked for permission to enter the motorcycle, sight unseen, in the world class Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance car and motorcycle show in Florida. The theme for the motorcycle class was “Orphan American Motorcycles,” which gave the opportunity for America’s lesser known brands to be seen by the public. Walksler had 10 rare motorcycles displayed, ranging from a 1904 Yale to a 1914 Flescher Flyer. All of the motorcycles were at least 100 years old.

“The museum has taken such good care to preserve this machine for as long as they have,” Walksler said. “The Amelia Island is one of the best car shows in the world. More than 60,000 people attended the show this year.”

Walksler picked the motorcycle and it’s original shipping crate up and drove it to Florida. He stopped at his museum in North Carolina, where he filmed an upcoming episode of “What’s in the Barn” featuring this 1912 Thor motorcycle. The episode featuring the 1912 Thor will air this summer on the Velocity Channel.

The award winning 1912 Thor motorcycle and it’s shipping crate is on display on the main level of the Allen County Museum.