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Nick's Custom Cycles and Salvage

Carry on and Head to the Coop

Dmac
7/4/2018


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Rolling thru the Garden State, one has to venture out to a place where the roots of a local biker were planted, watered, and survived for the past 48+ years. While Jersey soil is rich in nutrients and hell it doesn’t get the name the Garden State for nothing, this place is rich in motorcycle culture and old iron. It’s definitely a one of a kind place that has survived the evolution of the H-D kingdom that now graces every prominent exit on every mile of interstate (ok, well not really every mile, LOL, but close!).
 
This place is like the old boneyards from yesteryear….ya gotta venture on an adventure to find it.



Tucked away in a place called Williamstown, NJ, Population 35k and growing, sits the Chicken Coop. The Coop is a 15 x 206 foot long building that used to house chickens at one point in time. For the past 48 years, it has housed used and antique motorcycle parts, as well as some of the people who have been wrenching on those parts, and bringing them to life. The Coop is the centerpiece of the property known as Nick’s Custom Cycles and Salvage. And Nick is the mastermind behind the builds and the business. Welding, machine work, and certified mechanics are all there to help make your H-D bigger, better, faster…MORE!
 
Everything has to start somewhere, and here is where it began: It all started with a letter. Veronica was reading Life Magazine and noticed an article about
sailors not getting much mail during the Vietnam War. She wrote a letter and sent it in. She was matched with a young sailor, Nick Muth, from Williamstown, NJ. They were pen pals for a year. Upon his return home from the War, they ended up getting hitched and bought a '49 Ford Convertible and drove to Canada for their Honeymoon. And so, the Muth Family was born.



Eventually four wheels changed to a two-wheeled rigid for the jaunts to Canada on Saturdays after work to watch Hot Rod events. Fast forward to 1969, after his tour in Vietnam, Nick, a welder, was working at Camden Harley-Davidson. Veronica had graduated from Cooper Hospital as an RN and worked in the ER.

Since Nick had grown up one of 12 siblings on a farm, they looked around for property and settled on acreage in Williamstown, Gloucester County, New Jersey. February, 1970, they took ownership of a 3 acre farm, complete with a house and chicken coops. $8500.00 gave them a place to plant roots. The dream began. Nick started building choppers in the coops, complete with fabrication and his custom paint jobs including help from the two daughters, who came along by surprise.



The guys were working around the clock on an engine when one daughter decided it was time to enter the world. She arrived 20 minutes after getting to the hospital. The second daughter at least gave them a 3 hour leeway presenting herself to the world after arriving at the hospital. And so, began their family business. Buildings were added on, one after the other, housing a growing business and staff who loved what they did. They were living their dreams!




And there was a time or two (well maybe more), where Nick actually visited Veronica at work and came into the ER on her 3-11 shift. One memorable night was on the way home after leaving the races, seems he fractured his foot on a telephone pole in a wreck, and dislocated some toes. Another time they both ended up visiting “her” ER after a run with “Nicky’s Boys." They were taking a jug handle onto 42 when the front end snapped on his chopper. Veronica fell off, Nick went down with the bike, and they both ended up with stitches in the ER. Now that’s togetherness!



There were many good years, and some very lean years, but Nick continued to drive the business. At one point in time, he sold a prized possession, his 1934 H-D CAC to the Harley Museum in Milwaukee, just to keep the business and his staff afloat during a rough time when the economy took a nosedive.





Their family business has survived through tough times because of determination and dedication. The Old School way of life. And Nick is lucky enough to still love what he does after all these years!



He has added in a museum on the second floor that includes part of his private collection: a 1923 Indian once owned by Steve McQueen, a 1905 Harley-Davidson Single Cylinder,




A 1908 Single Cylinder H-D that took him 40 years to restore, bringing home the First Prize in Antique Class in the Easyriders Bike Show 2017 at the Atlantic City Convention Center and more!

Nick and Veronica have very little free time, but like to spend it with family and friends. After years on rigids, in 1986, they bought their first new bike with a balanced motor. Veronica realized this was definitely helping out with her backaches from the good ol days and rigid riding!
 

 
They can be seen riding around on their newest bike, a 2001 Heritage Softail. They decided on the Softail because in 2001 they won the Custom Chrome Dealer Show’s Grand Prize of a $8500.00 Fly and Ride to Germany for 15 days. It was there they were given a 2001 heritage to ride. Veronica enjoyed the comfy ride, and she didn’t have any backaches afterwards. So, they bought their 2001 Heritage when they returned. Nick also enjoys taking his three grandkids riding, especially his in sidecar!
 
Carbureted kickers remain close to Nick’s heart.



They’ve travelled north, south, east, and west as a family. Bike week in Daytona, brought them to swap meets. They’ve attended Dealer shows and run the gamut of the biker industry. With Veronica and one daughter working in the business, their company now spans to three generations. Three grandchildren have provided the next generation of experts! Nick, at 70, enjoys taking them for rides in his sidecar, or hot rods. The grandkids think it’s cool to ride in a car without seat belts!
 


 Their place is a gathering spot for people from the US, as well as overseas. Saturdays is like a pilgrimage– people come from all over the Tri state area for advice or opinion, while others trickle in from around the country, just to congregate and hang out. “The place gets mobbed,” according to Veronica.
 
American Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz have haggled over antique motorcycles and parts back in July, 2013. The Antique Motorcycle Club of America has Nick listed as member 619, out of the ten thousand plus registered members. Nick was also featured on an episode of "WHAT'S IN THE BARN" with Dale Walksler (from the Wheels Through Time museum).




Young and old are drawn like magnets to metal to this one-of-a-kind place hidden deep in the south of the Garden State. Can I reference “kid in a candy store” mode? Yeah, that’s the feeling I got! Already got adrenalin flowing being on the road for a few weeks, this place was just the icing on the damn cake! If you know me, you know I love history. And damn, there’s plenty of it here! And you just don’t know where to start!




Have to say I was drawn in like that magnet. For me it was definitely the highlight of my road trip through the old stomping grounds of yesteryear. The awestruck feeling you get walking back into real raw history with a living legend tour guide and his brothers was phenomenal.



Nick has an uncanny ability to know every part, what it came off of, where its located onsite – stockroom, coop, attic…obviously why the H-D Museum curator reaches out to him from time to time for authentication information. If it is from an H-D, he most likely has it on site. Knowing first-hand how hard it is to find parts on the older scoots, keep Nick’s in mind when searching out what ya need! Actual, accurate, and awesome! Oh yeah, and the contents of the chicken coop are up for sale! Carry On!

https://nickscustomcycle.com/About-Us


PS: Many thanks to Nick and staff for opening your world to my lens! Many thanx to Veronica for sharing your family history and photos!






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