Way back in 1960, Harley-Davidson was growing more concerned about the threat of Honda’s small-displacement motorcycles. It knew it needed to do something, and it had to act fast. Building brand-new small-displacement machines from the ground up was a pretty tall order. What could Harley do ASAP?
Buy a controlling stake in the motorcycle arm of Italian manufacturer Aermacchi, of course! Now, it’s worth noting that some especially important Harley history came out of the Aermacchi period. As of February, 2021, Harley’s only Grand Prix racing wins ever came via Walter Villa astride H-D/Aermacchi 250cc and 350cc Grand Prix Racers, between 1974 and 1977.
To be absolutely clear, this 1969 Harley-Davidson Rapido is decidedly not a Grand Prix-level racer. Instead, it’s a 175cc enduro-styled two-stroke. It has all-original paint, and is also being sold in complete condition. Leather saddlebags are included, and the odometer shows just 1,464 miles on the clock (total mileage is, of course, unknown). This Rapido is blue and silver, and the saddle doesn’t look to be in terrible shape, considering its age.
Gallery: 1969 Harley-Davidson Rapido
For those unfamiliar, the Rapido is a bike where you shift on the right and operate the rear brake pedal on the left. Depending on your experience (as well as if you actually want to ride this bike), it could take some getting used to. The candy-like rear taillight is almost as big and round as the headlight, which is a little bit hilarious to a modern eye. The saddlebags appear to have some kind of detail (embroidery, perhaps?) on their flaps, but it’s not easy to see exactly what’s happening there in these photos.
This bike is scheduled to cross the auction block at Mecum Las Vegas 2021, which runs from April 28 through May 1. This Rapido is Lot T280, and should be available for bidding on Thursday, April 29, with no reserve. It’s unclear if this particular bike runs, but if the idea of owning your own Harley-badged two-smoke with a fair bit of well-earned patina appeals to you, this could be your bike.