Sweet Scoot: 1960 Harley-Davidson Topper

As an incurable oddball scooter fan/fanatic, this 1960 Harley-Davidson Topper really caught my eye. I happened to be browsing the craigslist in Duluth, Minnesota and this one came up. It can be found here on craigslist in nearby Superior, Wisconsin and the seller is asking $1,500 for it.

They are rare little things and being an actual made-in-America Harley-Davidson scooter, you’d have a fairly good chance of making it out of Sturgis alive while riding one there during the rally. Hagerty lists a #2 excellent example as being valued at $4,000. This one needs a full nut-and-bolt restoration, but luckily it’s small. If it’s as pretty much complete as the seller says it is and a person did the work him/herself, it should be doable while keeping it under the value.

Those handlebars should be chrome so you know that there is a lot of work to do. I haven’t seen too many red Toppers, they seem to have made more of the light blue models. There was also a black Topper which I would think any dedicated Harley-Davidson fan would automatically want.

The more I look at this one, even though it really needs everything, I like it. Here’s what it would have looked like. The first year Toppers had chrome handlebars and a fun, jaunty Topper badge compared to later models with a rectangular badge on the side and a painted handlebar cover. White grips are another sign of a first-year Topper compared with black grips.

There were two somewhat significant problems with at least the early Harley-Davidson Toppers. The 165 cc single-cylinder worked well but the designers didn’t account for the cooling needs with all of the shrouding around it and there were overheating problems. Another issue was with the Scootaway Drive CVT which would accumulate road grime and the belt would slip. Later models incorporated a sealed drive that seemed to solve the problem. I need to add a Topper to the collection someday, have any of you owned one?

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Comments

  1. Matt Murray

    I brought one as a teen in 1985 for $25 bucks. Had it running next day.
    I just knew I owned a harley!
    I rode that thing till I got my first car at 16. Not sure whatever happened to it probably gave it away?

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  2. Ort

    Does riding one of these Harley’s cause a better-than-you attitude to appear? ; )

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  3. BR

    I had the two-tone light metallic blue one, but I don’t remember what I did with it, it was so long ago.

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  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’ve got a couple of acquaintances in the scooter-tramp world who have Cushmans in their collections. They would probably latch onto one of these in a heartbeat. Hell, I wouldn’t turn one down either. When you get into the senior biking crowd you find them less fussy about what they ride or the condescending looks from passers by. I wouldn’t even be afraid to ride one of these to a senior biker’s Friday luncheon in Kalispell…

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  5. C5 Corvette

    I had 2 of these that I sold on Ebay for a Dr. friend many years ago. they were not in good condition! The bidding war was very successful. the auction closed and the buyer who lived in New Orleans area, must have gotten in his truck and drove straight thru to my house in the Buffalo NY area. A while later he emailed me photos of the restored scooters. They were beautiful and almost like the photo provided here.

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  6. Chris In Australia

    Finally, a H-D I can respect!

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  7. Rube Goldberg

    You know, growing up in Milwaukee, aside from the Shriners riding these in parades, I don’t ever recall seeing one on the street. I was at big factories that used these for inter-plant duties, but rarely in the real world. To be honest, coming from a manufacturer that built Big Twins and Sporty’s, most were probably ashamed to be seen on one during the day. I bet these were thrown out as fast as they came off the line. Does anybody know, was that motor made in Milwaukee or an Aermacci deal?

    1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      It’s definitely a culture shock to go from a thundering big twin to an anemic little humming bird. Reminds me of a typical plot for a James Thurber story. I’m curious about the origins of the engine myself. I replaced the crank in an HD golf cart and it seems to me that the engine was a Sachs. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention and the parts all came from the HD dealer. I might add that it was intimidating to walk up to the parts counter and tell them you need parts for a golf cart…

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  8. stillrunners

    There was a nice one here local with out an engine on CL – couldn’t get $500 out of it as the price was dropping…..kinda what one….

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  9. Hal

    No matter what some experts say about this ….Harley……it is still a cool find and would be a hoot to own and putter about on

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