The Enrique Pontolillo Book

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Authors: Uwe N. Illgner & Egbert F. Eschenbacher (AMCA members)

TITLE: Enrique Pontolillo, El Hombre del Millon de Kilometros en Moto

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He was known as the absolute Harley-Davidson legend, and for the past half century he had been one of the flashiest figures in the international Harley-Davidson business. His successful work, his extraordinary life and mainly his extensive trips on Harley-Davidson motorcycles all across his South American home country, made him immortal.

Enrique Pontolillo Lacerra, which is his complete name, was born on January 22, 1900 in Lima, Peru as one of twelve children of an Italian immigrant family. In his early years he was an enthusiastic sportsman who was interested in boxing and mainly soccer.

Enrique Pontolillo first learned to ride a motorcycle at around the age of 14. For the young Enrique the bike was quickly becoming the center of his life. At an early stage of his life he was able to acquire his first Harley-Davidson motorcycle from A. H. Bergstrand, the exclusive sales agent for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company in Peru. It did not take long for him to develop a plan for earning his money with his beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycles and at the same time operating as their agent and distributor. He started as a sub-agent with his own shop – La Motocileta - and in 1931, he became the general agent for the brand Harley-Davidson in Lima as well as for the entire country of Peru. Traveling with his Harley-Davidson motorcycle through his home country of Peru was Enrique’s greatest passion.

By the year 1923 he had already made a return trip from Lima to Chosica on his 350 cc (21 ci) side valve Single. This trip had been accomplished only 20 years after the Harley-Davidson factory had produced its first motorcycle. Furthermore, it was the first known motorcycle to travel in South America.

On his second trip in 1924, he traveled to Canete. In 1926, it took Enrique an amazing 35 hours to make the return trip to the southern Peruvian city of Nazca, which had been accomplished without any incidents. Considering the long distances and terrible road conditions, one can only imagine how challenging and special this venture was. Newspapers reported about the hardships in the desert caused by extreme heat and quicksand. The following year Enrique packed up his 350 cc Single and started his adventurous journey along the coastline to the northern port of Chimbote. Sometimes he was forced to ride on railway tracks due to the lack of roads. He even had to travel over a large desert where he lost his orientation. In order to cross several rivers, the motorcycle had to be carried by helpers to the opposite shore. By the time he reached his destination, Enrique had covered a total of 423 miles in a time of 40 hours. In 1935, Enrique Pontolillo went on an arduous trip into the mountains on a Harley-Davidson VL motorcycle with a two seater sidecar accompanied by two passengers. Without any trouble he rode his Harley-Davidson over the rough, unfinished highway through the Andes at the heights of up to 15,616 feet. It was the first motorcycle from Lima to reach some of these small mountain towns.

Two very impressive journeys took place in the year 1937. On a new 1937 Harley-Davidson with sidecar, Enrique together with his friend, made a trip to Talara, a town in northern Peru.
After crossing the vast desert with a width of 125 miles, they had accomplished the feat of traveling the entire distance of 900 miles in the span of 52 hours. Under the heading "Adventuring in the Peruvian Andes", an article appeared in the Harley-Davidson magazine called "The Enthusiast". Enrique took another violent ride through the Cordilleras with his 45 ci Harley-Davidson covering an incredible 2,000 miles. Due to a bad crash with his motorcycle in which he broke his leg, he had to take a break from his trip. This incident should not have been the only hold-up. In the mountains, 30 Indians attacked him and threatened his life. In self-defense he injured one of the Indians with a shot from his gun. For this reason, he was retained by the governor for a period of 10 days. In 1946, Enrique went with his 45 ci Harley-Davidson on his longest journey which consisted of 7,120 miles leading him through Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. He was accompanied by two comrades on a 61 ci Knucklehead and a 74 ci Flathead. Towards the end of 1949 Enrique purchased a 49 EL Hydra-Glide. His first trip with the new bike led him to southern Peru, to Arequipa where he visited some clients and friends. In 1954, Harley-Davidson celebrated its 50th Anniversary. This event was the impetus for Enrique embarking on a cross-country trip along the coastline.

By the end of the journey he had accumulated 3,400 miles on his Harley-Davidson Panhead on which the "Enthusiast" published an extensive article describing this trip in much detail. At the end of the decade in the year 1959, Enrique headed out for another "violent ride" through the Andes leading him to the south of Peru and 1,920 miles altogether.

Another article published in the "Enthusiast" documented the adventures experienced by Enrique. In 1965, he bought a brand new Electra Glide with sidecar. The following year he took the motorcycle for another cross-country trip. At the age of 73, Enrique Pontolillo planned to ride his motorcycle from Lima to New York. Unfortunately, he was unable to perform this journey.

Enrique also had a great passion for category motorcycle racing. In 1926, his first race took place on the outskirts of Lima in which he participated successfully with his 21 ci Single side valve in the 350 cc category. In 1928, he bought a Harley-Davidson 21 ci OHV single-cylinder racer, the Peashooter. Due to his powerful and efficient machine he had victories in several races. With his extensive trips and racing accomplishments, Enrique promoted the Harley-Davidson product for which he had the exclusive distribution rights for the entire country of Peru. Enrique supplied the military, police and country administrators with suitable motorcycles. His activities with the Peruvian authorities and institutions were very successful. Doing business with the police and the military is a privilege in any country as it promotes and enhances the image of the company. Enrique had always maintained a very good relationship with the Harley-Davidson factory. Therefore, he was visited by the export managers of the company who came all the way from Milwaukee to Peru.

In 1941, when the war against Ecuador broke out, Enrique as a patriot, voluntarily applied for the military service. He worked as an instructor and trainer of the dispatch riders and as a liaison-officer for the tank battalion. Later on, he was appointed as general staff officer. In this position he took a great amount of responsibility for delivering secret documents to units at the different sections of the front, which were under hostile fire. Authorized by the Peruvian President, Manuel Prado, Enrique had the sole permission to function as a war correspondent using his skills in photography, as well as his talent for journalism. One time when he stopped to take a few pictures of a skirmish, his hand was wounded by a bullet.

After the war, Enrique, in addition to his main job, worked as a motorcycle- and chauffeur instructor. Furthermore, he was also a traffic police instructor and took part in various parades. Together with his brother Victor, Enrique voluntarily served in the fire department in which he used a motorcycle with sidecar equipped with a mounted water pump for fire fighting. His passion extended to the love for his home country, where he founded the "Touring Moto Club" with its motto "Discover your Peru and show it to the World". He never got married. Legend Enrique Pontolillo, "The One-Million-Kilometer-Man on his Bike" dedicated his whole life to his beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycles and his country. South America’s most famous motorcycle rider died on September 19, 1982.


Written in English language, Format A4 (width: 8.26 in, height: 11.69 in), printed in four colors, 656 pages, hardcover

Approx. 700 pictures and illustrations


Please also find further reports on globetrotters that came to see Enrique Pontolillo in Lima, e.g.:
Zoltan Sulkowsky and Gyula Bartha from Hungary in 1928;
Robert Harding from Texas/USA with his Knucklehead (Harley-Davidson) 1946; Thomas Miller from California/USA on his Harley 1946
Richard Harder/Paul Walker from California/USA on Harleys on their way to Rio de Janeiro/Brazil 1948;
Mack Hofmann from Milwaukee/USA to Brazil, with a lightweight two-stroke Harley 1956;
Mike Sumner/Butch Dutkiewicz on a Harley Electra Glide from New York/USA to Brasilien, 1971

Harley-Davidson literature, posters, advertisements, written correspondence partly in Spanish language

Description of Uwe Illgner and his activities

Price: 89 EURO 7% VAT included
Book distribution and shipping for USA and Canada customers will be executed from inside the USA for fast delivery.

Advertising Picture 1 Advertising Picture 2 '09-'24