October 17, 1966. It was probably a cold day in Wisconsin on that date, a date when a '67 Corvette Sting Ray rolled onto the lot of Dale Chevrolet in Waukesha and was signed into "Dealer Demonstration Service" by William R. Dale, VP of the dealership. A little under a year later, Dale Chevrolet sold the '67 to one James Holtyn of Milwaukee. Quite a distance away, another '67 Vette was on its way home for the first time. When it arrived, a young James Alvarez rode his bike over to his neighbors' garage to see the new purchase. In a word, his words, "...the car was amazing." And with that, Jim started his life-long obsession with Corvette.
It was just a couple years later when Jim was beginning another obsession-motorcycles. "I started riding when I was 10," James tells us. "My parents recognized my interest in mechanical things, so they bought me a mini bike for my 10th birthday. A few weeks after riding it, I started to get curious about the bike and how it worked. So as a normal kid would do, I borrowed my fathers tools and started removing parts." And just like any young up-and-coming gearhead, Jim was hooked. From there he graduated to a dirt bike, and by age 16, he was on his fourth motor-driven cycle.
In the late 70s, Jim sold his bike to buy his first Corvette, a '76. Later on in the '80s, he would again sell off his vehicle of choice to move to California. While out in the Golden State, he began hanging out with his cousin Bill. Bill owned more than a few Harley-Davidsons, and Jim fell in love quickly with the Hogs: enough that after earning a little bit of extra cash, he ran down to a local dealership to get a Harley of his own. "It was just too expensive for me," he remembers, "but the dealer convinced me to buy a Honda, which I did." Even though it was a far cry from the teeth-rattling ride you get from an American icon, James had his first new bike.
"The following weekend," says James, "I drove my new bike over to my cousin's house so we could go for a ride. When I got there, I was so proud of my new ride that I asked Bill if he wanted to take it for a drive. He looked around as if to make sure no one was looking and then said, 'No. I'd rather ride my Harleys.'" It was at this point in time that Jim didn't quite understand the passion one feels for a Harley versus a Honda, but Jim was about to get an education. "After a number of rides and endless times where I was left to eat his dust, I decided to buy a Harley. And then I understood why he didn't want to ride my Honda."
Jim started out with a Sportster. He then moved up to a Softail, and in 1999, he bought a Road King Classic, Model FLHRCI, decked out with an EVO V-Twin. Jim bought a Road King because it's a cruiser, "I could ride a couple hundred miles in a day and still feel like new." And with all things mechanical, Jim felt the need to tinker. "I hate to have exactly what everyone else has, so I started to customize my bike." Going after the retro look, the Hog owner removed the stock bags in favor of a hard set.
Then he started adding chrome-a lot of chrome-as much chrome as he could find. Next, he rolled out a pair of Metzler oversized blackwalls and traded them for the whitewalls that had been on the bike. "It improved the ride and gave it a great retro look," Jim told us. And with the installation of a vintage-'50s logo in place of the typical Harley badge, the bike was ready to make some noise.
By now Jim had understood why his cousin didn't want to ride his Honda, "The Harley has a distinctive drive that just puts you in another place. There's no way to describe the feeling of a Harley or the sound and acceleration of a '67 427 Corvette Sting Ray. They are both very unique!" Yeah, that's right, a 427. See there were other things going on during this time than just an education about real motorcycles.