Evel Knievel Jet Cycle

Evel Knievel Jet Cycle


Evel Knievel Jet Cycle

This wild jet-powered three-wheeler was listed on eBay years ago. It was built in the late 1960s by EJ Potter, also known as “The Michigan Madman.” Potter used a Fairchild J-44 jet engine scored from United States military surplus. The 1,200-horsepower engine was initially built to power a cruise missile before it was latched on the three-wheeler.

Potter named his creation the “Widow Maker” and traveled to drag strips across the country, wowing wide-eyed crowds with his death-defying performances.

Back in the day, the jet trike could exceed 200 mph—a benchmark still praised today by motorcycle land speed racers. The “Widow Maker” was eventually bought by none other than Evel Knievel, who renamed it as “Jet Cycle X-J44.”

Knievel rode it at several motorcycle events before it was retired. The daredevil’s signature red, white, and blue livery still decks out the Jet Cycle. Those are fitting colors for a treasured piece of motorcycling Americana.

Everybody knows the legendary Evel Knievel. But Potter’s life as a daredevil and mechanical savant is equally compelling. Potter, a native of Ithaca, Mich., built his first V-8 motorcycle at 19. He cut apart a Harley Big Twin frame and outfitted it with a 238 cubic-inch Chevy engine.

Potter attempted to make a centrifugal clutch for that inaugural bike. But he opted instead for a Chevy direct drive to handle all the power. As a result, he’d jack the back of the bike up on a rear stand, crank the throttle to get the wheel spinning as fast as possible, and then kick it off the stand.

The motorcycle would rocket down the strip doing a smoky burnout the whole way as he reached speeds over 170 mph. In 1961, he built another V-8-powered motorcycle. This time he used a 350 cubic-inch car engine with 500 horsepower.

Potter said: The acceleration would be real noticeable, and the vibrations, bumps, and engine noises would stop registering. It got kind of mental.

The X-J44 Jet Cycle’s glory days on the drag strip are distant memories. But this extraordinary vehicle remains a significant artifact from America’s daredevil history.

Potter, a self-taught mechanical genius, had only the most rudimentary mechanical means at his disposal. That’s historically significant. What’s more, the most famous motorcycle daredevil of all time owned the rocket vehicle. Knievel’s trademark is still all over it, from the stars and stripes on the tank to the custom-stitched leather seat.

Click here to research Evel Knievel price history in the Market Watch section of Harry Kraemer's Wheels & Wings site Flymall.org

3-Wheelers.com owner Harry Kraemer, meet Laurel Rosenberg. Laurel worked with Evel in one of his movies featuring the Evel Knievel Strato Cycle (pictured below).

Laurel signed this picture for Harry to display in his motorcycle museum.


Here are some more pictures of Laurel.


Laurel joined the movie industry in 1974 working as an actress, crew member, stand-in, doing motorcycle stunts, and as a precision driver on such shows as Policewoman, Harry O, Police Story, Starsky and Hutch, Barnaby Jones, The Love Boat, The Rockford Files, Murder She Wrote, Simon and Simon, Knightrider, Trapper John, I Desire, Malibu, CHIPS, Back to the Future II, and more. With a love of cars and knowing her way around a set, Laurel got the idea and started "Laurel's Motion Picture Car Locators". Laurel has supplied 1000's of vehicles to TV shows and movies with happy car owners on the sets with their cars and then seeing their cars on TV or the big screen.

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The Evel Knievel X-J44 “Widow Maker” Jet Cycle

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