Vintage Rides → 1946 : A South America tour on Harley Davidsons

1946 : A South America tour on Harley Davidsons

Today we’re off to Peru to tell you an extraordinary story about Arturo López Guido, a 93-year-old Peruvian biker.
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1946 : A South America tour on Harley Davidsons

A nice surprise

Sometimes life brings you beautiful moments without any warning. Like that day we received a message from Luis López, director of a Genevan tour operator specialising in Latin America. When he found out about our new motorcycle tour in Peru, Luis wrote to tell us about his uncle Arturo.
« I thought it could be nice if your motorcycle tour groups could pass by his home in Huancayo and say hi. »

Stories from the old times

Luis often travels to Peru for work and to visit his parents in Lima. Last time he was there, he also visited his uncle Arturo in Huancayo, who shared a fascinating story from his youth. “My uncle was very touched to tell me about his adventures, because, at 93, he feels like life has already passed him by. His mind is still intact and he’s got lots of energy despite having had a serious road accident, which has left him wheelchair-bound. I wanted to do something for him, so I listened. I was so happy to see him smile again when he told me his story.”
We also wanted Luis to tell us his uncle’s story, simply because all stories are worth sharing, especially when ordinary people do extraordinary things. “It would really make him happy if you went to see him in Huancayo. He owns a riverside hotel, so you could stay there.” Sadly, our South American motorcycle tour starts and ends in Arequipa so we don’t go as far north in Peru. “My grandfather on my dad’s side was the first Ford car importer in Central Sierra, which explains where our family’s interest in beautiful cars and motorcycles stems from. My uncle was an engineer and pilot. He went to live in the United States and returned to Peru to work in the mines, but he will always be an adventurer in my eyes.”

Taking off on Harley Davidsons

Arturo López Guido was 19 years old when he set off with two friends on a motorcycle tour across Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile before returning to Huancayo. They started in Lima on 1st November 1946. “Getting to Lima was an adventure in itself. When you leave Huancayo, a town perched at 3,260 m altitude, you have to cross Ticlio Pass at a staggering 4,818 m altitude. It was a crazy feat and just imagine the state of the roads; not a single stretch was tarmacked until they reached a city. My uncle had very little riding experience at that age and the Harleys back then were not what they are today.” The fearless riders covered a total of 18,440 miles in just 26 days!

A local celebrity

Luis told us that they received a lot of support along the way, which is what we find when we're on the road, too. “No matter where they went, they were welcomed like heroes and met up with local motorcycle clubs. They also appeared in the newspapers. It really was something special.”

Intact memories

Arturo is the only surviving member of the group. Thanks to Luis, we have managed to get hold of some of the photos and press cuttings from back then. “Last time I saw him, he showed me some photos of the adventure. It’s funny because Arturo has all the originals but he can't remember where he’s put them. He did have all the copies at hand though and I took some photos of them.” When we asked Luis if he’s also into riding, he looked at us with a smile and said, “No, not me! I prefer horses!”
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1946 : A South America tour on Harley Davidsons
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