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Mike Egan Story 1943-2021

Mr. Big Candy Finds Motorcycle Nirvana

by Bandit, with photos by Markus Cuff
3/29/2022


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Mike Egan recently passed away. I worked with Mike and his wife Patty for about 40 years covering his restorations, working with him on project bikes such as the Dicey Knucklehead which I still have. Hell, I made a deal to retrieve a Panhead from a brother partially because it held a Linkert Carb rebuilt by Mike Egan. I owned a 1931 VL for 25 or so years, which was owned by Lou Kimzey, the original Publisher and Editor of Easyriders Magazine. It was restored by Mike Egan, and I was offered the matching sidecar, which I mistakenly turned down. As Mike would say, “It’s worth Big Candy.”



Mike was an original, a one-of-a-kind master of Harley-Davidson restorations and a font of knowledge around Harley and Indian history. At times an acerbic character, he surrounded him and his family with historic Harley treasures as if he was the caretaker of King Tut’s tomb. He knew minions were constantly clamoring to get at the chests of gold icons, but somehow, he was able to secure himself and his fortunes in the Santa Paula, California hills surrounded by orange groves and avocado trees.



We worked together on an historic Board track display for the Santa Paula Museum, and I wrote numerous features about his restorations for celebrities, such as Steve McQueen. Many of these stories might be captured in the new Classic Easyriders DVD volumes if they can ever reach the West Coast from China. As Mike would always say, his restorations were, “First cabin.” He was close to Budd Ekins and worked with Von Dutch and the owners of the Buena Park, California Wax Museum. At one time Mike offered me two basket case Brough Superior motorcycles. I came close but didn’t pull the trigger. Again, he wanted big candy.

A Von Dutch toy.
A Von Dutch toy.



At one point in Mike’s younger years, he traveled the country buying up dealership inventories of motorcycles, Harley parts, advertising materials and display antiquities. Life changed dramatically and rapidly from 1903 until just after WWII. New and modern became the order of the day and the past was considered antiquated junk and needed to be removed. Mike recognized the trends and the value of the history. Maybe he had a mentor, or perhaps he found himself being taught in the art of respecting motorcycling history.

Willie G. and the Dicey Knucklehead by Randy Simpson, of Milwaukee Iron and Mike's restored Linkerts.
Willie G. and the Dicey Knucklehead by Randy Simpson, of Milwaukee Iron and Mike's restored Linkerts.



Even as the whole Chopper lifestyle emerged Mike didn’t follow the wild radical trends but kept to the traditional and even the purely historic restoration aspects of motorcycling. Maybe he never smoked a joint and thank the chromed gods he didn’t. He stayed true to a rare code, one of pure respect for mechanical antiquity. I spoke to him and Patty shortly before he passed. His passing is like losing the key to a rare kingdom.

--Bandit




The Official Obituary
Michael F. Egan

Santa Paula - Michael F. Egan, of Santa Paula, CA, passed away in his home surrounded by family on Monday, October 18, 2021. Mike was 77 years old.

Mike is survived by his wife, Patricia Egan (née Parrott); his daughters, Candace and Catherine Egan; his grand-daughter, Evelyn Walker; his sisters, Patricia Egan Turner and Margaret Egan Barker; and his brother, Paul E. Egan, along with nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents, Paul F. Egan and Patricia Mangan Egan, and his brother, Christopher J. Egan.



Mike was born in Aurora, IL, on December 13, 1943, to Paul F. Egan, former two term mayor of Aurora, IL, and Patricia Mangan Egan. He attended Marmion Military Academy in Aurora, IL, and later moved to Los Angeles, CA, where he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1964. Mike was a natural leader and achieved the rank of Sargent. He was combat tested and was wounded during his tour of duty in the Vietnam War. He served in the Marine Corps from 1964 to 1968 and earned an honorable discharge. He then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, on the G.I. Bill and graduated with honors as a history major in 1971. He was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society.

Mike and Patricia met in Long Beach, CA, in 1973, and were married on December 19, 1974. They welcomed two daughters, Candace, in 1981, and Catherine, in 1992.

Mike was a legendary motorcycle enthusiast and internationally recognized collector and restorer of rare, antique domestic and foreign motorcycles, motorcycle parts, and memorabilia. He traveled to obscure corners of the world gathering pieces for his collection as owner of M. F. Egan's Vintage Motorcycle and building the legacy he leaves behind today.



Mike gained notoriety as a member of the California custom motorcycle and car counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a publisher of a monthly newsletter, Vintage Motorcycle Advertiser, in the early 1980s, and later published two catalogs of his own inventory in the 1980s and 1990s.

Throughout his career, he contributed as a guest writer and was also featured in various motorcycle publications, including Easyriders, Cycle World, BikeWorks, and Hot Bike magazines. Additionally, Mike curated two museum exhibitions at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula, CA: "Splinter Road" in 1994 featuring early racing motorcycles; and "Bikes and Badges" in 2001 which showcased motorcycles used by law enforcement.

When not working on motorcycles, Mike enjoyed camping, fishing, hiking, and being outdoors, and spent the last decade of his life as an avocado rancher. Mike will be greatly missed, and always remembered for his rebellious spirit, tenacity, intelligence, creativity, and sense of humor.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 6, 2021, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, at the Egan residence at 19900 South Mountain Road, Santa Paula, CA.


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