Harley-Davidson: The AMF Years

In the year of 1969, the Woodstock music festival took place in upstate New York, American astronauts landed on the moon, and the AMF corporation took over production of Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Prior to the acquisition of Harley-Davidson, American Machine Foundry, or AMF was primarily known for its bowling equipment and other recreational items. AMF basically tossed the then-financially shaky Harley-Davidson a financial life preserver, and maintained ownership of the motorcycle company for a dozen years.

While there were, and still are plenty of fans of the AMF-era Harleys, there were also lots of Harley purists who weren’t too thrilled with the whole idea of a sporting goods manufacturer producing the classic American motorcycle.

HatTipcanstockphoto53073149  More here.

4 thoughts on “Harley-Davidson: The AMF Years

  1. My first Harley was a 1979 XLH from the AMF era. It was a bastard year model as HD made frame, fork, fuel tank, oil tank, seat, and brake changes that were unique to that year model. There were zero aftermarket parts available. It was 2 years old when I got it and I kept it until I joined the military 2 years latter.

    I now have a ’96 Sportster Sport XL1200S (first year model) and ’06 ElectraGlide Standard FLHTI (last year model). Both are heavily customized. The Sport is all geared to performance and handling. The Glide is my version of what a CVO should be.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had that happen on the ’79 and again on the ’96 Sporty. It is common on carbureted XL’s because of the oil blow back from the heads into the carb saturating the filter causing it to drip off the bottom of the filter – common when running the bike above 4k rpm for extended periods. Leaks by design.

        A common misconception that HD’s leaked due to a problem when the leak is caused by riding aggressively. The ’79 was bone stock as no aftermarket parts are available for a 79 – still aren’t. The ’96 got the full performance treatment with the compression bumped up and the jugs opened up to 1448cc (88CI) with all mountain motor upgrades with heavy headwork. The 96 Sport has consistent 1/8th mile runs in the 105ish mph in the low 6 second range. They would both drip oil from the filter because I was always bumping the rev limiter.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a 2006 FXST that in a roundabout way I inherited from a dear friend and coworker. I met
    Jim in late 70s when I was picking up some parts at the compressor shop he worked for. After
    seeing his classic chopper, I complimented him on his old school shopper. He was one of those
    kinds of guys who buy a basket case, do a frame off restoration and chop in his garage or living
    room. I moved on to the Millwright trade some years later.

    I forgot about the encounter long before I became a Millwright. The first shop I worked for, I was
    hired to replace a man who had just left. Turns out it was Jim. When I went to a union shop I
    thought that was the first time I met him. He was a foreman and I was the one who he chose for
    every field job. He got pissed off with management and went to work for a paper mill. I followed him
    about six months later. After he died I inherited his scooter by saving it from foreclosure after
    his dumb ass daughters boyfriend dumped it on a freeway and his daughter used it as collateral
    for a loan.

    When Jim’s daughter, brother and I were trailering the bike to my place we passed the compressor
    shop his brother told me that Jim used to work for. That jogged my memory. After 20+ years
    and two (almost three) employers, we became the best of friends. Jim was fiercely loyal to the
    brand and he was an old-school chopper builder. When we were talking about the AMF years,
    he praised the company for saving Harley Davidson from bankruptcy, just as a Japanese
    company did in the 1920s by selling rights to manufacture HD’s in Japan. It became the
    official military motorcycle in WWII Japan. I have had his bike for years, but old age, a
    lack of money and disabilities may prevent me from restoring his bike.


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