Did You Know? Harley-Davidson Topper Scooter.

Scooters represent the motorcycle market fastest growing segment. Price of gas can only help support and amplify this trend. Amazing the growing number of young people and executives I see every day riding them to school or work. So, it made me think that most of you probably don’t know that in the 60’s Harley-Davidson introduced the only scooter platform the Motor Company ever produced. Why?

Because during this period Harley-Davidson was struggling and Honda business was booming thanks to its popular line up of scooter models. Harley created the “Topper” marketed as a fun recreational vehicle for school, work and play. It was powered by a 165 cc two-stroke engine advertised as up to 100 miles per gallon. To start it, no kicker but a simple pull-start recoil system like for a lawn mower. Transmission was of the type variable rate automatic and called “Scootaway Drive”.

You could equip the “Topper” with a small sidecar option to transport a passenger or for package delivery. The Harley Scooter was produced from 1960 to 1965 and is today a prized collectible. E-Motorcycles, e-scooters, automatic transmission, economy… Do you think that some key Harley executives may have this in mind to address the needs of the young, women and men in the US and in emerging country markets? Would you like to see again or buy a Harley scooter?

Zipper's

25 Responses to “Did You Know? Harley-Davidson Topper Scooter.”


  1. 1 Jose May 7th, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Harley scooters. Hmmm. Maybe it would attract youth to the brand.

  2. 2 Woody May 7th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    And you can sit on one at the H-D museum in Milw. and “live the dream”. You can see the back of one in this pic-
    http://woodysfairings.com/images/products/museum.jpg
    But I prefered the raw power of the dirt machine 🙂

  3. 3 Woody May 7th, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Since they dropped the Buell Blast, I doubt if they would be into doing another scooter as an entry-level feeder. I don’t see them making any money with a late entry into an already crowded market. That’s a lot of R&D expense that could be used on their core products.

  4. 4 Seymour May 7th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    You have to wonder, if Cyril starts talking about it…….. : )

  5. 5 Rob Campbell May 7th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Woody, that pic is to die for. I’m not sure who oughtta, but it’s a good one!

  6. 6 Wiz May 8th, 2011 at 3:56 am

    Yup, full black leathers, vest with all kinda derogatory/offensive pins ‘n patches, ‘n chaps with the H-D skull logos everywhere, big boots with spurs, buck knife, concealed 45 caliber pistol, chain wallet, half-gloves, wide black bandana, Wayfarer shades, long hair ‘n beard, death head/Nazi SS tattoos [real one’s, not the removable kind], ‘an a snarlin’, just as soon kill ya as look at ‘cha, attitude! Fit right in ridin’ one of those Bad to the Bone scooters! Yuk-Yuk!! Wiz

  7. 7 Kirk Perry May 8th, 2011 at 10:05 am

    My brother rode a Topper in ’62. A “loaner” from Pridgen H-D® in Pasadena, Tx.
    Birch white and bronze., and a fiberglass shell that lifted up from the back, like an Allstate Pacemaker.
    It’s the only transpo he had at the time.
    The first time I saw it, I thought “Golf Cart”. He opened the lid for a look at the motor. It was a huge single cylinder with even-cropped fins. Looked like a huge (horizontal mounted) model airplane motor. 2-cycle too, it smoked on take-off. Nylon & rubber rope pull-starter on the left side of a bottom ledge above the foot board.
    Previously the lead mechanic at Bruce Bristol BSA, Lambretta, & Mustang – racing successes got his name listed in Floyd Emdee’s Daytona Race statistics book, and he had proudly racked up 52 speeding tickets from the Houston police, who finally scooped him up for a summer’s work of hoeing rows at the Huntsville Prison Pea Farm. All part and parcel in 1960’s Houston. If you hadn’t done some prison time before age 21, you were an absolute nobody in the world of motorcycling.

    I hadn’t been to Houston since 1969, when we went back to the Big H for a reunion. On the way to Galveston to have lunch, we passed the block where Bristol’s was located on the Gulf Freeway. I called out from the back seat, “Hey! Whadyoueverdo with your….Toppa? No answer, so I kicked the back of his seat which had started rocking back and forth. He was laughing HARD.
    He said, “I use to ride the Topper from Spring Branch all the way over to Pasadena, taking back roads as much as possible to avoid riding on the freeway, no windshield, in the middle of a wet-air winter, and that’s bad. Probably 65 miles round trip, everyday, to go to “work”. Freezing.
    Now 42 years later he tells us (from the safety of his front seat), “I wasn’t getting paid by Pridgen, I just rode over to the shop everyday to hang out.”
    Boy howdy.

  8. 8 Kirk Perry May 8th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Is Harley going to make another scooter? Great! Just don’t put “wing” fairings on the front again. Too much wind drift from trucks. 50’s Vespa’s were the same, pass a truck and get blown into the next lane.

  9. 9 Joe May 8th, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I think it makes great business sense for HD to bring a scoooter-sized small motorcycle to market.

  10. 10 Woody May 8th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Done correctly they could put Cushman out of business 😉

  11. 11 Woody May 8th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Am I they only one who remembers the old “Ruff & Ready” cartoons? Pretty sure the dog rode a scooter like that.

  12. 12 Ben Kudon May 9th, 2011 at 9:25 am

    i HAVE A 1960 HARLEY TOPPER (BLUE & WHITE). THEY CAME IN A STD COMPRESSION MODEL AND THEN LATER THEN INTRODUCED A ‘HIGH’ COMPRESSION MODEL(9 HP)! THE ENGINE IS RUBBER MOUNTED TO REDUCE VIBRATION. THE AIR CLENER WAS UNDER THE SEAT AND THE INTAKE WAS IN THE SEAT SO IF YOU WEIGH A SLIGHT BIT ON THE GINORMOUS SIDE YOU CAN ACTTUALLY BLOCK THE AIR INTAKE MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP THE ENGINE RUNNING. TRUE STORY, FORTUNATELY NOT ME!

  13. 13 Joe May 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    We’ve had guys paint their CSC scooters to match their bigger bikes…take a look at this one we painted to match the owner’s ’91 Softail…
    http://californiascooterco.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/35030014Bruce650.jpg

  14. 14 Rob Campbell May 9th, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Good point on Cushman, Woody. Turns out the Hummer was named for Dean Hummer, who hada dealership right in Cushman territory and outsold ’em in spite of location. Dean now lives in the north SF bay. Nice guy–I met him once at a friend’s shop.

  15. 15 Chief Waldo May 9th, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Back in the 60s HD also had the M50/M65. First introduced at 50cc, then upgraded to 65cc, they were available in a standard motorcycle configuration with a foot shifter three speed, and a moped looking configuration, with twist grip 3 speed.

    Here’s a video of the moped style:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lryf_R07y3Y

  16. 16 IAN May 10th, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Warrs HD dealer in London has one on display

  17. 17 1dwb May 10th, 2011 at 6:08 am

    DOES THAT BRING BACK MEMORIES….I JUST REALIZED HOW OLD I WAS !

  18. 18 South Side Surfer May 10th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Yes Scooters are the future.

  19. 19 gtlover May 15th, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I recently bought a Genuine Buddy 150 Blackjack edition. Yeah, it’s a Taiwanese built scooter but at least it’s an American company, and it’s black with red wheels and wide white walls. Tuned exhaust included, some assembly required. Did I mention 50+ MPH, 80 MPG, and you can stow a couple of 6-packs under the seat?

  20. 20 nuno maroco May 15th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    In my opinion i belive that it´s a very good idea, scooters are very popular around the world.

  21. 21 Woody May 15th, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Cool pic, Joe. Looks like the guy across the street did the same thing with his trucks 😉

  22. 22 Taco May 16th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    that sucks to.

  23. 23 dave Jul 23rd, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    my dad had a 62 topper scooter in the late 60″s. he chopped it up and made a tote-gote for hunting. i don’t think he would have ever guessed the topper would become a rare collectible someday. if i remember correctly he ended up trading the tote-gote for some jeep parts. if only……

  24. 24 Rod Aug 12th, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I own a 1960 A. I talked Mom into it in 1963 for $250, money we did not have back then. It was in the shop about every week until I just left it in the garage and borrowed the family car. A brother-in-law wanted to take the engine out to put it in a go cart. When that didn’t go any farther I got the pile of parts back and about three months later I had it back together leaking oil and fuel just as it always did.

    Now that I have retired and can pay a lot more attention to help available through the internet, I have it back together and repainted to its original color (almost – I still like white wheels). I ride it almost every day weather permitting. I don’t think I could do a 20 mile trip though, it will only do about 40 mph and I have not measured the MPG. I had an offer once several years ago, from a dealer in London, of $10K. It is worth more to me than it would be to anyone else. It gets attention, most who see it had no idea that Harley Davidson ever built a scooter but the trade marks are pretty evident. I have about 5300 miles on it now.

  25. 25 Dark Horse Oct 14th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Getting ready to purchase a barn find w/o an engine. Any ideas where to find one?

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