1968 Aermacchi / Harley Davidson 350cc Sprint Racer

1968 Aermacchi 350 Sprint L Side

Watching riders hang off vintage race bikes like this 1968 Aermacchi/Harley Davidson 350 Sprint is inspiring, and has me dreaming of something like this. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Aermacchi and how they ended up being associated with Harley Davidson, here’s a little recap.

The old chestnut is that “history repeats itself” and in Harley Davidson’s case, it’s certainly true: in recent years, Harley bought boutique motorcycle manufacturer Buell and, after a few years of struggling with that unlikely union, dissolved the brand. What should have been a way for Harley to produce modern, sporting motorcycles was instead seen by “The Faithful” and Harley’s network of dealers as their “red-headed step child” and was shunned. Which is a real shame, since Erik Buell is a maverick in the truest sense of the word, something Harley claims as part of their image.

1968 Aermacchi 350 Sprint L Side Engine

Back in 1960, an eerily similar situation was unfolding. After the Second World War, Italian seaplane manufacturer Aeronautica Macchi began manufacturing motorcycles to meet the needs of a population hungry for inexpensive transportation. Harley saw the brand as a way to quickly gain access to lightweight, sporting motorcycles they could sell to Americans, and purchased a 50% stake in the company’s motorcycle manufacturing operation. In the mid-70’s, Harley purchased the remaining shares and held on to Aermacchi until they sold it in 1978.

1968 Aermacchi 350 Sprint R Side Engine

The seller helpfully describes the build of this track bike in detail. From the original eBay listing: 1968 Aermacchi/Harley Davidson 350cc Sprint Racer for Sale

After building, racing, and winning six national championships on 350cc Aermacchis, scoring victories with every vintage club in America and Canada, Giannini Racing is offering this race ready example for sale.

Built from the frame up with all new parts, this classic vintage Aermacchi road racer represents some of the finest workmanship in the country.

Frame:
Paint and unnecessary parts stripped, lightened, reinforcement and modification welding, fitted with new bushings and tapered steering head bearings, painted with black epoxy enamel.

Engine:
Internals completely rebuilt with new bearings on the crank, connecting rod, transmission, and camshaft.

New Aries high compression racing piston has been fitted into a re-bored cylinder and fitted with racing rings. Racing cam with longer duration and higher lift, working with lighter lifters and reground valves and seats fitted with R&D valve springs.|
New dry clutch drives a 4-speed transmission with new sprockets and a 530 special Regina racing chain.

Carburation:
A Dellorto vintage square slide carburetor with air stack and factory manifold has been fitted to a matched, ported head with a new cable and Domino twist throttle controlling the fuel delivery.

Ignition:
A specially fitted PVL, variable advance, self generating ignition supplies the spark with a kill switch mounted to the clip on handlebars.

Although these vibey little four-stroke singles aren’t the most refined machines, and lost out in terms of performance to two-stroke competition at the time, they’re stone-axe simple, well-built, and parts for them are readily available.

If you’re looking to get into vintage racing, this could be your ride: it’s ready to go, just add some vintage dinosaur juice. But move quickly: there’s not much time left on this auction!

-tad

1968 Aermacchi 350 Sprint R Side

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1 Response

  1. Well, to be more specific, in the late 1950s Harley had nothing to compete on the international racing stage, and Aermacchi was winning races with their flat single OHV racers and two-stroke twins. Harley bought them in 1960, I believe, and commenced to win races, even a World Championship in the 250cc class with Walter Villa aboard a water-cooled two stroke GP bike which had been designed by his brother. Harley began selling Sprints and other lightweight machines throughout the 60s and early 70s, which sold well.
    People expected a similar story to unfold with MV Agusta, but Harley did nothing with that brand at all, except lose a hundred million dollars or so…