In the musical movie "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986), in the song "Feed Me (Git It)", the lyrics go:

Seymour: [Sung] Gee I'd like a Harley machine

Toolin' around like I was James Dean

Makin' all the guys on the corner turn green

Obviously whoever wrote the lyrics had to rhyme with "Dean" and "green", so "machine" fits, but is that actually what anyone would call a motorbike? "Harley machine"? Or maybe it's specifically intended to sound stupid/silly since "Seymour" is a very meak and "nerdy" character -- the opposite of who you'd imagine driving a motorcycle?

  • 2
    I doubt that there are many men over 40 who would not associate "Harley machine" with the motorcycle. Certainly "a Harley" is idiomatic, and adding "machine" is not all that odd.
    – Hot Licks
    May 11, 2020 at 22:27
  • And I'll note that my grandparents referred to their car as "the machine". This was perfectly idiomatic in the day.
    – Hot Licks
    May 11, 2020 at 22:28
  • 1
    And also note that Little Shop of Horrors was odd in many ways.
    – Hot Licks
    May 11, 2020 at 22:30
  • 1
    There is no reason why the meek and nerdy Seymour would not like to have a Harley machine, perhaps just a fantasy he is singing about – wanting to be like James Dean and making guys' heads turn. May 11, 2020 at 22:33
  • In the 1970s a British motorcycle magazine used to refer to the Vincent Black Knight as a 'gentleman's express carriage'. May 12, 2020 at 6:13

1 Answer 1


Dictionary.com defines as “old“ the use of the term machine for the following items:

1)an automobile or airplane.

2)a typewriter.

3) a bicycle or motorcycle.

From : Harley-Davidson: The Good, the Bad, and the Legendary by Voyageur Press

The first Harley was sold before it was finished to a local man named Meyer, who put 6,000 miles (9,654 km) on the machine before selling it to a George Lyon, who added 15,000 miles (24,135 km).


Dual purpose machines like the dual-sport style are made to go off-road but include features to make them legal and comfortable on the street as well


So, the expression “Harley machine” though dated, is correct.

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