The White Zombies may have defined it — “400 horsepower of maximum performance piercing the night … This is black sunshine.”
But Brian Elliott brings the ride to life.
“My main job is to restore engine cases and frames, so people can restore the bikes themselves or pass on to someone else,” said Elliott, who re-creates 1970s and older Harley-Davidson motorcycle frames as part of his business, Black Sunshine Customs.
He also can re-create the entire bike, a task that can take two months to over a year to do. “I don’t like to build bikes, but I do it to fund the other work.”
He searches for original parts at swap meets and at other garages and shops. If he can’t find the part, he will manufacture it himself. “When you are restoring a bike, you don’t want something off the shelf, you want an original part.”
Motorcycle buffs from all over the world, including Australia, England, France, Italy and Germany, where the older Harley-Davidson culture is very popular, have work done by Black Sunshine Motors.
Although motorcycle enthusiasts may dream of spending every day with knucklehead frames and old Harley-Davidson parts, the business started from a nightmare.
The love of motorcycles started when Elliott was 18 years old and “tinkering” around. He started restoring a bike, but had to sell it after his first child, daughter Myia, was born in April 1998.
“I gave up a little when I had kids,” he said, with no regrets.
In January 2002, Elliott’s then 2-year-old son, Brodin, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor at the base of the brain that can affect the spinal cord fluid.
“When he was going through all of this, I couldn’t keep my head straight,” Elliott recalls. “If you’re watching TV, you’re still thinking about it. So, I started diving into this."