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$500 Project: 1964 Harley-Davidson Topper

Here’s a nice winter project for any of you vintage/classic motorcycle folks. It’s a 1964 Harley-Davidson Topper and it’s small enough to not take up your whole garage during the restoration, yet cool enough that you won’t feel embarrassed actually riding it in public. Or, some of you won’t, I know that I wouldn’t be, I could care less what anyone else thinks about my rides! Thanks to Pat L. for sending this tip in. This Topper is here on craigslist with an asking price of $500 or offer and it’s in Iola, Texas, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. Toppers were built in Milwaukee and this isn’t one of the bikes that Harley imported and rebadged as a Harley-Davidson so you’ll have some street cred when you ride it to Sturgis.. with your propeller hat and short pants. Just kidding, they aren’t frowned upon like some bikes are given that it’s an American-made actual Harley-Davidson, albeit a small one.

That first photo is pretty much the only real photo worthy of showing this nice project. The remaining ones are detail photos and a couple of them are blurry, like this one showing the odometer with 4009.6 miles on it. Could you imagine riding this l’il Harley scooter for over 4,000 miles?! Since the oil has to be pre-mixed with the gas, that’s a lot of work, but it’s something that we just did in those days. I was only two years old when this bike was made so I mean, it was something that we did, and do, with bikes of this vintage. Unfortunately, you won’t be riding this one any time soon unless you’re coasting downhill, there is no motor with this one! Here’s a YouTube video of a Topper tearing up the streets.. just so you’ll know what it’ll sound like when you plan your cross-country trip. Barn Finds fan and commenter, cyclemikey, has done an extended trip with a small bike before, probably more than once, so it’s definitely doable. Get out there there and experience the slower, scenic two-lane roads and it’ll make for some fantastic memories.

That embossed seat cover is nice and everything is original here. The seller says that the motor was missing when they bought it for a project and they never got around to restoring it. The missing power would have been a 165 CC two-stroke, single-cylinder mounted horizontally between the floor boards. Some of them developed heating problems because of it being enclosed and not having a fan to cool it. The Harley engineers and designers thought that being mounted low like that would be ok with enough air passing over it, but it wasn’t the case for some of them. You’ll have to source an engine, but everything else looks like a straightforward restoration project here. These Toppers can sell for $3,000-$5,000 easily in restored condition so this could be a nice project. I’ve always wanted one of these, have any of you owned or ridden a Harley-Davidson Topper?


  1. Howard A Member

    Scotty sure has a hankerin’ for these. One was posted by him last summer ( in a little better shape)
    Like the last one, I’d have no use for this. I could have sworn, when I was a kid, the Shriners rode orange Toppers like this in parades. 4,000 miles was probably all you got out of these. ( they had a 4,000 mile guarantee, 4009 miles, D’OH) IDK, maybe with a modern engine,,,nah, I’ve always said, there’s 2 things you should only do at night. One can’t be mentioned here,( hint, better odds at closing time) and the other is ride a scooter.

    • PaulR64

      What are you talking about? My 1964 Topper has over 9,000 miles on it. Original engine and not a rebuilt. Mine goes up to 55 mph and past 60 mph down hill, just like they were built to. This not a terrible deal at $500, the tough part is sourcing an engine for it.

  2. Leo

    I dont see the value here. Did anyone read the part in the ad where it says “no motor”? Have a feeling that part is going to be expensive and hard to source. Put anything other than an original engine in it and any collector value goes out the door. Just sayin….

    • Wayne Thomas

      That is the value of this bike. The motor would need to be replaced anyway for practical riding use. Otherwise, its just garage art. Any Topper restomod would need a newer engine…preferably American.

      • Ron E Bee

        Why? I have a friend that has mechanically restored his, runs fantastic, tops 45mph…….granted he’s not gonna ride it everyday but it functions fine

  3. RicK

    Didn’t the Sal Mineo character ride one of these in the James Dean movie Rebel Without a Cause?

  4. RicK

    Of course his would have been a 1955 model (the year RWAC was released) not a ’64 like this one

  5. Chris In Australia

    With or without the engine, its still gonna sound better than a shortie pipe equipped H-D.

  6. Ron E Bee

    I have a motor for that, too bad it’s so far away, that’s a screaming deal

  7. Skip

    For Christmas of 1959 my parents gave me an Allstate-Cushman built scooter. Like the Topper, it was a ride and go scooter and I really loved it. But in the summer of ’60 or ’61 I happened to make a trip from Midland to Big Spring where we stopped by the Harley shop. They had a new Topper on display and I got to go for a ride. I really would’ve liked to have had it, and it rode like a dream. But the Allstate scooter was still relatively new, so that was the end of that idea. Ended up giving the scooter to my now-late cousin when I got my first car in ’63. He painted it blue! Never knew what he did with it when he moved away from here years ago.

  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    yes….he’s listed this off and on for awhile – think it’s a price drop to $500…’s in a city not far from me…tempting….but so was taht Harley golf cart I had for awhile….a family drove it off when I sold it at a swap meet……

  9. leiniedude leinieduede Member

    Sold for $1,675.00. 9 bids.

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