Harley Davidson Topper Scooter Timeline
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Harley Topper History

Harley-Davidson's first scooter was a little over 6 horse power, the Topper Model A lasted up into 1961.
Then the 5-brake horse power AU models built in 1960 to 1965 which used a small plated air intake manifold along with a few other changes to reduce the horse power, was built to meet the 5-brake horse power below class required by some state laws which allowed youngsters to ride on the main highways under the Junior licensing law program which existed in the U.S.
Then the AH Topper 9 horse power, introduced in 1961, which had a high compression engine, lasted to the end of the Topper motor scooters life span in 1965.
Harley-Davidson was in competition in the early fifties and sixties as imports were flooding the U.S. market at a fast pace. Harley-Davidson was constantly changing tactics and introducing new motorcycles and marketing the Topper Scooter at the time. It was a changing world for Harley-Davdison and the company was doing all things right. A known fact that during the early sixties to the middle sixties the company was making numerous acquisitions in the U.S. and aboard, strengthening the companies position in a new world market, getting more of a competitive bite in the motorcycle and scooter market. This was also a time Harley-Davidson was putting in place, a strategic plan, like a master chess player, moving and hiring management, positioning people in areas of the company to meet the new global demands within their organization.
Hiring managers from some of the top companies in the U.S., managers involved in the oil, automotive and power industries. Highly regarded, talented business managers chosen to keep the company on top of the manufacturing, import-export playing field during that period.
Remember a new import-export trade agreement was opened up about the same time in the sixties, which changed marketing in Europe.
The European common market and the Free Trade association opened a whole new world for U.S. companies to trade in Europe.
This period of time, from 1960 to 1965, was a very profitable time for the company. Harley-Davidson was now very diverse.
With a new business strategy for the company, producing more than just motorcycles and scooters in the early sixties, they now have to offer in their product line, Powercrafts, Golf carts and importing small displacement motorcycles from Italy, with the Harley-Davidson marquee adorning the newly imported motorcycles.
Many articles have been written about this time period from the first 1948 lightweight 125s, all the way up to dropping the Topper scooter from the Harley-Davidson model line in 1965.
Most of the articles blame the failure of the scooters popularity. But if you are importing motorcycles, meeting the young adult market demands at the time, as foreign companies were flooding the U.S., advertising in venues: television, news papers and radio with the introduction and sale of lightweight dependable motorcycles, then importing a low cost dependable line of foreign lightweights makes sense. "Supply what people want".
Harley-Davidson had several successful years in the lightweight motorcycle market. For instance, the Aermacchi line.Click to view the Aeromacchi Harley Logo
The Harley Topper was built in the U.S. at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin plant.
Most people believe the Topper was an import, NOT TRUE.
Today many Harley collectors have passed up adding the Topper to their collection not understanding that the scooter was built here in the U.S.
All the Topper parts are SAE.
The Topper has many parts that interchange with the Hummer lightweights made here in the U.S. as well.
The Topper was being introduced in the U.S. as early as June of 1959 performing road tests and advertising venues and was on the drawing board early in 1958.
When did Harley-Davidson invest in the Aeronautica Macchi civilian aircraft company? (1960).
Harley-Davidson spent two years prior to purchasing shares in Aeronautica Macchi, researching and studying overseas motorcycle and scooter companies, for foreign marketing, they purchased fifty percent of the company.Click to view the 1961 sprint at the  Varese, Italy  factory.
And in December of 1959 prior to Harley-Davidson's purchase, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA., acquired a substantial interest in Aeronautica Macchi Aircraft company to license them to build a Lockheed designed light utility aircraft for the California-based company.
Another firm Harley-Davidson formed to beef up the companies presence in the world market about the same time was the Harley-Davidson International, S.A., in Switzerland. (This company was central control, administrative and tech support for overseas sales of the Harley-Davidson product line.)
When did the first Aermacchi Harley Sprint sell in the U.S.? (1961). Click to view the Sprint on the assembly line at the Varese, Italy factory.
Harley-Davidson, prior to April of 1962, purchased 60% of the Tomahawk Boat companyClick to view the Tomahawk boat plant to have a manufacturing facility to produce fiberglass components for the Topper Scooter and other motorcycles and pleasure craft components along with manufacturing the two new models of the Harley-Davidson Golf cart. (Electric and gas models)
The Tomahawk company was re-tooled and ready to produce fiberglass components in 1963.
Also in the early sixties, improvements were being made to the Milwaukee production facilities.

Around 1960, Harley-Davidson was able to offer insurance to the owners of a Topper Scooter also to motorcycle owners and riders by forming an insurance company named: Highland Insurance Service Inc. The 1960 newly formed insurance company also was able to offer Harley Dealers insurance on their own motorcycle dealerships. President of the company was William H. Davidson and vice president was George F. Fischer, General Manager. Secretary and treasurer was O.P. Resech, Resech was also secretary and treasurer of Harley-Davidson Motor Company at the time.

Harley-Davidson held four, two week courses, to instruct mechanics how to service and repair Harley Topper Scooter's.
Enrollment started December 1st 1959 at the Juneau Ave plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 26 men from 21 states and 2 provinces in Canada, graduated together on December 12th, 1959. The second class was held in January 1960, at the same location. This time 24 men from 15 states graduated on January 23rd. The third class started in February 1960. 25 men from 13 states and 2 provinces of Canada, graduated February 13th, 1960. The fourth class started around February 22nd and they graduated March 5th, 1960. 22 men from 14 states attended. 97 mechanics attended these 4 classes and would put most of the men mentioned from that time period around the ages of 75 to 85 today in 2013. If anyone reads this article, who was one of the mechanics, and is or was related to someone who attended the classes at that time, please contact Harley Topper Club.
We would like to meet with you and chat about your experience during the 2 week course given by Harley-Davidson.
We have every mechanics name, city, state and photo, who attended the classes and we are planning on contacting anyone on our list if possible.

Hopefully we can find a few guys on the list as we continue our search. I'm sure they would be a wealth of knowledge.
We would like to get copies of the original films and visual aids used during the eight week course that was put on at the Juneau plant from 1959 to the early 1960's. That would be a great wealth of information to share on the Harley Topper Club.



Foreign Market orders:
Some foreign countries used the the Topper scooter in small towns for Law Enforcement.
Most of the Topper's were painted black with Police stickers.

Some foreign countries used the Topper for dispatch delivery in postal, customs and airports.
Some of the Colors of the Topper's ordered varied depending on the standard color code used at the facilities.
We have some photos and will post them at some point.

A , AU
A , AU , H
AU , H
AU , H
AU , H


Model Size of the Harley Topper Scooters 1960 to 1965 Two Cycle Engine

All Topper engines used a Reed Valve Intake (the same reed plate assembly was
used on all models A, AU, AH.
The AU used a smaller-based manifold and
the A and AH used different air intake manifolds with the reed valve setup.)
When the Topper is stopped, the transmission will not take hold over 1800 rpm.
(The piston and rings are the same as the Harley lightweights
1953 to 1959 ST and 1960 super 10, 165cc engines.) some other internal parts
are interchangeable as well.
Model: A 1960 and 1961
( Little over 6 hp, compression ratio 6.6:1)
10 cubic inch, 165 cc.
Top speed: does a little better than 45 miles per hour.
What made this 10 cubic inch 165 cc motor low in hp: low compression
head (the A and the AU used the same head), small carburetor intake passage , small air intake manifold, small air intake hose , and long low resistance muffler.
Weight: 237 lbs
Gas consumption: 80 miles per gallon, advertised to get 100 miles per gallon.
Sold new for under: $450.00

Model: AU 1960 to 1965
( 5-brake hp, Compression ratio 6.6:1)
Same 10 cubic inch engine as the A & AH 165 cc engine.
Top speed: 40 to 45 miles per hour.
U signifies under-powered, also tagged as de-tuned or restricted.
The AU was a restricted horse power engine modified to meet the qualifications
in states with junior driver laws on engines under 5-brake hp back in the sixties.
What did they do to get the 10 cubic inch 165 cc motor under 5-brake hp?
This was accomplished buy using an special smaller-base manifold intake and-
a low compression head, (the AU and the A used the same head), small carburetor intake passage , smaller air intake manifold,small air intake hose and long low resistance muffler.


Model: H 1961 to 1965 Style Master
( 9 hp 1961 to 1965 compression ratio 8:1, 165cc)
H signifies "High compression engine".
Top speed: up to 60 miles per hour.
What gives the H more horse power: High compression squish chamber head , Deep breathing big carburetor with intake passage and transfer ports to match (much more fuel gets into the cylinder) , Larger air intake manifold, Larger air intake filter , Larger air intake hose and a tuned exhaust system.

Deep finned aluminum alloy cylinder head gives the H a
compression ratio of 8 to 1. An efficient “squish” Chamber
insures proper combustion and gives greater volumetric efficiency
at all engine speeds.
View the differences in the high compression
H head and the A,AU head in the pictures below.
Click to enlarge the images.

H, Squish Head ................................. A , AU Head
Click to open larger image of the Topper cylinder head for the AH .. Click to open larger picture of the 16650-61 cylinder head ... Click to open larger image of the 16650-61 AH  Harley Topper Head ............


The H has a BIG carburetor, with intake passage and transfer
ports to match. Plenty of fuel gets to the cylinder for top
horsepower output a real performance extra for scootering
pleasure, gets you away from the stop lights fast.
Larger Air intake manifold for the AH only: 27017-61