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Sturgis Or Bust: 1965 Harley-Davidson Topper AH

061816 Barn Finds - 1965 Harley-Davidson Topper - 1

This is a unique ride, a 1965 Harley-Davidson Topper AH. It’s in Feasterville-Trevose, Pennsylvania and is listed on eBay where some knothead (cough) (me) just bid it up to $3,000. The seller answers a question at the bottom of the listing and they divulge the reserve: $7,000! Ride this one to Sturgis and you’d be a legend, and probably sore.. These scooters were such a departure from their normal product line that Harley-Davidson offered two-week courses for its mechanics on servicing the Topper when they first came out. In early 1962, Harley purchased 60% of the Tomahawk Boat Company in order to have a fiberglass manufacturing facility. Clearly they thought that the Topper, and also both their gas and electric, fiberglass golf carts would be long-term sellers. The Topper was built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the good ol’ US of A; this is not an import like the Aermacchi Harley Sprint was.

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The Topper was Harley’s only scooter, but that they even made a scooter is pretty cool, I think. They made these cute little numbers from 1960 to 1965, so this is probably the one to have, being a last-year model. I’ve wanted one of these things for years but not $7,000 worth of want; maybe $4,000-$5,000 worth of want is more like it. I think $7,000 is a bit much, but we’ll find out when the auction ends. The AH model is a horizontal single-cylinder, 165 cc, two-stoke, 9-hp, high-compression engine (“H” = high-compression) that was introduced in 1961. The first model, the Topper A, originally came with a 6-hp engine and the company also made a detuned version, the AU, with 5 hp to comply with certain state laws that allowed scooters under a certain horsepower to be operated without a license, or to be operated by younger folks with a special license.

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This particular Topper sure looks perfect and the seller says that it’s all-original, even the paint, or at least they say that “it appears to be in original paint”. If it is all original it could be / should be a museum piece. Or, better yet, should be in my personal museum (museum = garage). This one has 3,566 miles on it, or almost exactly three round-trip pilgrimages to Sturgis from our house. These things had a version of the CVT, or it’s somewhat similar in that it’s a constant velocity transmission, put your feet up on the floorboards and go! And, Toppers have a rope-pull start, no kicking or push-button starting.

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The Topper used pre-mixed gas and oil as there was no oil-injection system available. That’ll take a little more thought as you (or, I) speed across South Dakota at its 60 mph top speed and need to find a gas station; don’t forget to add oil first! The Topper’s 30″ seat height is actually higher than most current Harley models are. I would be all over this thing at around $4,000-$5,000, but I’m guessing it’ll sell for more than that, and since the reserve is $7,000 it may be a no-sale here. Are you a Harley-Davidson fan or collector? If so, would you ride this Topper or are you a big V-Twin fan only?


  1. Howard A Member

    HA! Images of the Shriner’s ( or clowns) scooting around on these in figure 8’s comes to mind. This is just in amazing condition. Here’s a piece of news for ya’, if you get this thing up to 60, better have your life insurance paid up. These wouldn’t do 60 on their best day. I always wonder where manufacturer’s get their info from. Clearly, not the real world. Maybe 50 ( running on nitromethane), but these were more comfortable at around 40, 45 at most. Fun little things, but I wouldn’t be caught on this with a paper bag over my head. My theory was ( and always has been), if you’re going to ride a motorcycle, ride a REAL motorcycle,( a Kaw 900 comes to mind) not some toy. Some road situations require “power to pass”, and you ain’t gonna pass nothin’ with this ( except a gas station). BTW, I’d carry some 2 cycle oil with you, as it’s gotten kind of hard to find it at these “deli/gas stations” now. Great find, just not for me.

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  2. Terry

    Looks fantastic

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  3. ron e bee

    just got one over the winter

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  4. Blueprint

    Who new Harley did Art Deco? Great looking scooter!

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  5. TopGunner

    Harley Topper… Topper Harley? Wait! I get it now!

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  6. scot carr

    ~ Grateful for the Tomahawk Boat clarification. Someone gave me a H-D golf cart years ago. Brought a lot of interest as a swap meet/drag strip conveyance. Sold for $1750 latter. Should have kept.

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  7. Grr

    If you ride this into Sturgis on the day, post pics from your hospital bed after the biker gangs beat you to a bloody pulp…

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    • Scotty G Staff

      Ha! I think they’d get a kick out of it. Being an American-made, actual Harley-Davidson I think it would go over fairly well, sort of, maybe.. well, on second thought..
      I won’t be paying $7,000 for it so someone else will have to test that theory.

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  8. Cody

    The front wheel looks like like a wheel barrel wheel. Cool find. It would be a lot of fun around town.

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  9. Chris In Australia

    Finally. A H-D with a decent exhaust note

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  10. Dpeter1946

    In the world of Scooters the Topper was a design disaster. Started with a pull rope (which broke often), just like your lawnmower. Was very heavy, under powered and slow compared to the Vespas and Lambrettas of the day and handled like a wheelbarrow.

    I thought the Topper was another one of the AMC’s ‘brilliant” decisions, but not sure.

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  11. cyclemikey

    It might be a bit dicey to ride this thng to Sturgis, because it’s pretty rudimentary and quite underpowered, but if you did you’d get a good reception from the assembled faithful.

    But riding a scooter long distance is perfectly doable, and a kick to boot. In 2013 I rode a Honda Elite scooter from AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days in Mid-Ohio all the way home to the southern Oregon Coast. No problem, even heavily loaded with stuff, I just rode the old federal 2-lanes and cruised at 55. Interstates only when necessary(not much) and only for short stints. I have plenty of “real” motorcycles, Howard, and it was still a kick to ride the little scoot across the country. Who cares what anyone thinks? Sheesh.

    @dpeter1946 – The company that owned (and nearly ended) Harley was AMF – American Machine and Foundry – not AMC (American Motors).

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    • Scotty G Staff

      You’re my hero, Cyclemikey, riding a scooter that far! I’ve never been to the big show in Ohio; one of these days for sure. Stay safe out there.

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  12. Roger

    CVT = Continuously variable transmission no?

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  13. Dwight

    My buddy John and I went “stag” to our Junior Prom on one of these…in 1965…two guys in suits and ties. (Plenty of young ladies went unattached also…except in cars.) Even went to the after party until 3 am. Then home for a quick 60 minute nap…then up to milk the cow…and off on a 70 mile round trip to a local state park for a “non-existent” class picnic. Got back late in the afternoon…just in time to pull into the barn…and then the heavens opened up with a torrential downpour. The scooter had a tendency every 15 or 20 miles to load up the spark plug and quit running (probably too much oil in the gas). Had to stop, cool down a bit, pull and clean plug, and then go again. As we were “racing” the last 10 or 15 miles home, as the sky kept getting darker, we just hoped we made it before the rain let loose. Did…but only by about a minute.

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  14. Mark Mcginnis

    I know I’m years late to this conversation but I have a 1965 Topper with 3k miles for sale in Delaware County PA. it’s been 20 years since I last rode it but it went 60mph. It is all original & complete mmcginnis@lansdowneborough.com

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  15. Ron E Bee

    my friend has one right now on Ebay Here in Rochester, Fresh mechanically and original paint,

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