Harley Scooter? 1965 Harley-Davidson Topper

For those of us who like our two-wheel vehicles on the small and unusual side, we give you this 1965 Harley-Davidson Topper. I have wanted one of these for a few years now but unlike Jamie and his Buick wagon, I’ll probably try to hold off as far as bidding on this one goes. It can be found here on eBay in Headland, Alabama which is only around 25 miles north of the Florida border. There is a single bid of $2,499 and no reserve so it’ll sell to the high bidder.

Most of my oddball scooters and motorcycles are Japanese. I have two American made battery-powered things – scooters, minibikes, whatever you’d call them, Aurenthetic Chargers made in California in the early to mid-1970s. I need to get an American-made gas-powered scooter like this Topper someday. I have seen decent ones sell in the $3,000-$4,000 range so I’m a little surprised at the bid price on this one. As you can tell from the photos, it’s far from being perfect, it would have to have a full restoration in my world. But, if a person can just get it working and not care about some unusual stickers and paint here and there, it could be a good deal.

The Topper was made by Harley-Davidson, as in, the actual Harley-Davidson. As in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of brats, beer, and Brewers baseball. How can you beat that combo? This wasn’t an Aermacchi scooter which Harley rebadged over several years, but the Topper was made in the Harley factory in Milwaukee, not in Italy. It was Harley’s only true scooter and they’re just damn cool. I need one, maybe this one. Dang you and your Buick wagon, Jamie!

One bad thing: the ignition switch is missing, but the seller got it to start by working their magic on the wires, I’m assuming the ones sticking out in the photo above. One good thing: it started and ran! But, then it died, probably from old gas in the system, and how many of us can say that about ourselves? Once everything is cleaned out, add a new plug and fluid change, new ignition, etc, I’m sure that it’ll run like a top, or a Topper. The seller appears to know a thing or two about motorcycles, they have quite a few bike-related auctions going. Although the mind-blowing Barber Motorsports Museum is 3.5-hours north of where this Topper is located, I would bet that the seller has been there many times. Heck, I have been there many times and I’m from Minnesota!

Harley-Davidson purchased 60% of the Tomahawk Boat Company in the early-1960s and their fiberglass division gave the company a good reason to produce lightweight scooters such as the Topper and also fiberglass golf carts. Neither were long-lasting products but the Topper was made until 1965, so this is a final year model. The engine is a horizontal single-cylinder, 165 cc, two-stoke, 9-hp, high-compression engine. I’m sure that most Barn Finds readers could get this one humming in no time. The question is: would you ride it in public? You know I would.

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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Would I ride this in public? Damn right I would. If I would ride a Honda Spree without having to stick a paper sack over my head then I would certainly ride this. It’s a little too far out of my way to even consider going after it so I’ll have to leave it for someone else to have some fun with it. Strange I never saw one of these at the H-D museum both times I toured it. HD did build a mini bike but I didn’t know about a scooter.

    Like 6
  2. Jamie Palmer jamie Staff

    Buy it, Scotty! No buyers remorse there! Seriously!

    Like 4
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Yes, Scotty, get it! No reason to make this a “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. And another trip to the Museum for “research” would be the “Topper” to a road trip like this.Thank you too for the background about it’s origins-could this really be the reason we hear reference to a bike as a “scooter”?

      I’m with you, geomechs, if it’s got 2 wheels (or even 3!) I’ll give it a ride! However, you’re a braver man than I to consider a ride down the street wearing a paper bag over your head.. I’d get claustrophobic!😱🤣

      Like 4
  3. Jamie Palmer jamie Staff

    I did some research on the ignition switch, and while finding an original may take a while, there’s a John Deere switch I remember that is externally darned close if not identical. I’ll find you one of those if you buy it — my treat!

    Like 5
  4. Howard A Member

    Pretty funny, for something that was made in Milwaukee, the only time we ever saw them was the Shriners riding in parades. To be honest, I don’t think people even knew they were US made, and just figured it had to be an import. Milwaukee? Home of Electra-Glides and Sporty’s? Not a chance, but it’s true. I’ve long held a motto about 2 wheeled motorized vehicles. Make sure it can do the speed limit. I can’t find much info on the motor, which looks a lot like the old West Bend/Chrysler Sno-Runner motor, but I believe it was made in-house. Pass on the scooter, I want a real motorcycle.

    Like 1
  5. Dave

    You’re going to need a suit, fedora, and a pipe if you’re going to look like the rider in the vintage ads I’ve seen for these. Think Fred MacMurray in My Three Sons.

    Like 3
  6. Fast Fred Member

    I can’t believe you missed it being of Wisconsin person the Milwaukee Brewers not the Braves.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Scotty is from Minnesota. Actually, when this Topper was new, it was still the Milwaukee Braves. They moved to Atlanta in 1966, and we became the Brewers.

      Like 3
      • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        Thanks, Howard. That’s how old I am that I automatically thought Milwaukee Braves.

        Like 3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Gaaaa! Thanks for catching that, Fred, that’s sacrilege to refer to the “modern day” Brewers as the Braves! (apologies to Braves fans, but…)..

      Like 3
  7. Dwight

    Well, duh! My buddy and I went stag to prom on one back in 1965 dressed in suits and ties. A lot of girls went without dates, also…so we had lots of choices to party with. It was about an 8 miles ride each way (getting home about 4AM). Only about an hour nap and up for milking cows. Then off on it (a 1962 model, I believe) for a 40 mile trip to a state park for what was supposed to be a fun day after prom. Only two others showed up…so we all booked it for home. As we kept getting closer to home…it kept getting darker and darker…just in time, we pulled in the barn and a torrential downpour started. The only problem with the scooter was it was running too rich. About every 6 or 7 miles we needed to wait about 10 minutes for it cool, pull and clean the plug, and go again.

    Like 3
  8. mtshootist1

    my brother found one of these tucked in a garage on a ranch he was living on, west of Cheyenne, WY, He showed it to me, it had been in that garage a long time was missing the seat. Probably still there. The Harley Shop in Belgrade, MT has a minty one up on their display level above the showroom floor. blue and white, as I recall. The engine sort of reminds me of their Hummer, which was also made in the US, and not the Sprints of Italian descent. As far as bikes that I have ridden that deserved a paper bag over my head, was my famous Suzuki FA50, light purple, with a white seat, step through, its name: the Purple Pukie Racing Bike. Paid fifty bucks for it at a garage sale, and had at least a hundred dollars worth of fun

    Like 2
  9. 370zpp

    My neighbor had one of these when they were new. I remember his as being blue and white, but most of all I remember the lawn mower-like pull cord starter mechanism.

    Like 1
  10. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Sold for $2,574! Not to me but to some other lucky Topper lover who has more time to restore it back to what it should look like.

    Like 3
  11. Myron Vernis

    This was a good buy for someone. It has the more powerful AH engine.

    Like 2

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