The History of Harley Davidson Continues

Travels with Harley

If you have been following the Travels with Harley Blog, you will be just as fascinated as we are with the history of Harley Davidson. This week we are travelling back to the 1960’s and beyond to give you more on the history of Harley Davidson.

Travels with Harley

The history of Harley Davidson started the decade off with a consolidation of the Hummer and Model 165 lines into its Super-10 unveiling the Topper Scooter. That same year Harley Davidson bought 50 percent of the Aermacchi motorcycle division and imported the Aermacchi 250 cc horizontal in 1961. The motorcycle sported Harley Davidson badges and became known as the Harley Davidson Sprint. The Sprints engine was boosted to a 350 cc in 1969 and remained that same size until Harley Davidson discontinued the four-stroke Harley Davidson Sprint in 1974.

Harley Davidson Bobcat

When the Scat and Pacer were discontinued by Harley Davidson towards the end of 1965, the last of the two stroke motorcycles, the Harley Davidson Bobcat, was manufactured for just one year in 1966.

Travels with Harley

When AMF, the American Machine and Foundry, purchased Harley Davidson in 1969, the workforce was slashed and production streamlined. However, this resulted in lower quality made motorcycles and a labor strike. The new motorcycles were inferior in handling and performance and very expensive compared to the relatively cheap and affordable Japanese motorcycles. Thanks to AMF, quality and sales declined almost bankrupting the company. The history of Harley Davidson and its name began to tarnish with some calling it Harley Ableson, Hogly Ferguson, and Hardly Drivable with the nickname, “Hog,” now truly tarnished.

Travels with Harley

In 1976, the Harley Davidson Liberty Edition was manufactured to commemorate the bicentennial in America in 1976. It was at that time that Harley Davidson history would be forever controversial thanks to the Harley Davidson Confederate Edition. Released after the Liberty Edition, it was basically a stock Harley Davidson with confederate specific details and paint.

Travels with Harley

The history of Harley Davidson continues with thirteen investors purchasing the troubled company back in 1981 from AMF for $80 million.

During the early 1980’s Harley Davidson informed the US International Trade Commission that the Japanese were importing motorcycles into the United States at such a high volume that it could threaten domestic motorcycle producers. After an investigation, then President Ronald Reagan imposed a 45 percent tariff on imported motorcycles whose engine capacities were greater than 700 cc. Harley Davidson quickly rejected the offers of assistance from the motorcycle makers in Japan, but did offer to drop their request for the overseas motorcycle tariff for Japanese loan guarantees.

Travels with Harley

 

Next week Travels with Harley will take you into 80’s and beyond in its very own history of Harley Davidson.