History of Harley-Davidson: 1960-1969: The Coming of Age

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Harley-Davidson History

Like the rest of America, the 1960s were a turbulent yet transformational time in Harley-Davidson history.

The 1960s in America were a turbulent, transitional time to say the least. Major events like The Vietnam War, Civil Rights protests, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy had a profound effect on society and culture. By the time this decade had come to an end, America was a very different place. Plain and simple.

The ’60s were an important yet turbulent period in Harley-Davidson history as well. Not necessarily because it was ripe with new, exciting models or transitional change. But the decade saw some critical business transactions that would shape the future of the legendary motorcycle maker for decades to come.



New Models

In 1960, Harley-Davidson decided to consolidate the Model 165 and the Hummer lines. The result was the Super-10, which used a 165cc version of the Hummer’s B-model engine. The Super-10 would go on to last only two years in production before it was replaced by the Pacer.

Harley-Davidson also introduced the Topper motor scooter, which still stands as the only scooter platform ever produced by the company. Available with either a 9 hp 165cc two-stroke engine or as the detuned Topper U with 5 hp, the scooter was produced through 1965.

Business Moves

Harley-Davidson purchased a 50% interest in Aeronatica-Macchi, forming Aermacchi Harley-Davidson. The European division focused on producing small, single cylinder motorcycles. Harley purchased the remaining half of the company in 1974, but sold the entirety to Cagiva in 1978.


Brad Andres scored a first place finish at the Daytona 200. Even better, the top 14 finishers in the historic race also rode Harley-Davidson 750 KR models. Talk about a great day in Harley-Davidson history!


1961 Harley-Davidson Sprint

New Models

Importation of Aermacchi’s 250cc horizontal single begins as the new Italian/American partnership comes to fruition. The bike bore Harley-Davidson badges and was originally marketed as the Harley-Davidson Wisconsin. Before long, the name was changed to Sprint. The Sprint filled Harley’s need to combat small, cheap imported bikes and also went on to enjoy quite a bit of racing success.

History of Harley-Davidson: 1960-1969: The Coming of Age continued…

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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