Harley XL Sportster Ironhead overhead-valve engine was introduced in 1957 as a 900 cc replaced by a 1000 cc from 1972 to 1984. A cast Iron Heads Sportster engine is still, or is more than ever, a prize possession for many custom builders. So, it didn’t matter to Jesse Bassett from The GasBox Shop that the only thing left of a rusted pile of 1976 XL parts was the engine and a rear drum. He had the motor, the basis he needed for a very cool vintage style custom Sportster project on a budget.
First, the entire engine was rebuilt and is now running 9:1 compression pistons with PB+ cams and is breathing through an S&S carburetor covered with a Benchmark air cleaner. Jesse kept the original neck section of the frame, re-conceived and fabricated the complete frame with a brand new restyled rear section. The gas tank is a narrowed 2004 Triumph America tank from a salvage yard. The oil tank was hand fabricated at the shop from flat sheets of steel. It was fitted with a very cool filler cap from a vintage British cycle. The fender is a GasBox original with custom struts. A Harley Reproduction VL Style Springer is responsible for front suspension with custom handlebars to match its style.
The stainless steel 19” front wheel is laced to a vintage BSA drum which has been customized to fit into the Springer application. The rear wheel is stainless spokes 18” and laced to a standard XL drum. The brake has been modified to the location of the shifter which has been switched to the left side by using a later case half. 2 into 1 custom exhaust utilizes a stock AMF muffler. The headlight is standard H-D and the tail light is a Grimes model B off of a classic Cesna airplane.
The GasBox is a very young shop opened in 2009 by Jesse Bassett and specializes in custom fabrication and vintage motorcycles. Jesse has over twelve years of mechanical and fabrication experience including engine rebuilding, repairing, restoring, customizing and building motorcycle