In 1963, three-wheel Harley Davidson golf carts were introduced, with a four wheeled version following shortly there-after. These carts could be seen all over golf courses throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s.
In 1969, American Machinery and Foundery (AMF) bought the company and continued production of the golf carts until 1982 when they sold their cart division to Columbia ParCar, who is one of the major manufacturers of gasoline and electric golf carts.
Harley-Davidson golf carts are now considered classic and many enthusiasts take pride in restoring them to their original condition. Although restoring these vintage golf carts is not an easy task. Many Harley Davidson golf cart parts are rare and hard to find; so there is a large measure of legwork needed in order to bring the carts up to their classic condition.
Why Did Harley Davidson Even Make Golf Carts?
While Harley-Davidson has etched its mark in history primarily due to its iconic motorcycles, there’s a lesser-known chapter where the brand intersected with the world of golf. In the early 1960s, the golf industry was blossoming, with golf courses proliferating and the demand for personal golf carts skyrocketing. Sensing an opportunity in a rapidly growing market, Harley-Davidson decided to diversify from its mainstream motorcycle production.
The move into the golf cart business was both strategic and opportunistic. Harley-Davidson believed they could bring their renowned engineering and design capabilities to the golf cart sector, offering something distinctive from other brands. Besides, the golf cart industry presented a potential for steady revenues, especially with the rising popularity of golf in the United States. Thus, their foray into the golf cart market was a combination of meeting market demand and a diversification strategy to expand their product portfolio.
Harley Davidson Golf Cart Tech Specs
To appreciate the intricacies of the Harley-Davidson golf carts, let’s delve into their technical specifics:
- Engine capacity: Most of the Harley Davidson golf carts, especially the earlier versions, operated on a 245cc two-stroke engine. The compact engine was efficient and perfectly suited the leisurely pace of golf courses.
- Average speed: The carts were not designed for speed, consistent with the laid-back nature of golf. A typical Harley-Davidson golf cart cruised at around 10 to 15 mph, making it ideal for a quick transition between holes but not too fast to disrupt the serenity of the game.
- Types of fuel they used: Harley-Davidson golf carts were available in both gasoline and electric models. The gas models ran on regular unleaded gasoline, similar to what you’d fill up in your car, while the electric models used rechargeable batteries.
- Common problems or issues with the carts: Like all vintage machines, Harley-Davidson golf carts had their quirks. Some common issues that owners faced were related to the starter generator, wear and tear of the clutch, and the typical challenges associated with maintaining a two-stroke engine. On the electric side, as the carts aged, battery replacement and electrical wiring issues were commonplace.
- Features that made them unique in the market: Harley-Davidson’s brand reputation played a significant role. Their carts were easily recognizable with their signature logo, unique design aesthetic, and the unmistakable sound of their gas models. The quality of craftsmanship that went into each cart was evident, making them both reliable and a status symbol on the greens.
These golf carts weren’t just machines; they were an extension of Harley-Davidson’s commitment to quality and design. And though they’re no longer in production, their legacy continues as vintage treasures restored by enthusiasts around the globe.
Embarking on the restoration of a Harley-Davidson golf cart is both a challenge and a delight. The process, while intricate, gives life back to these classic gems.
Don’t Rush The Process
One of the most crucial aspects of this journey is patience. Rushing the process can result in overlooked details or mistakes. Every model of the Harley-Davidson golf cart is unique, so skipping the research phase can be detrimental. Being thorough in understanding the specificities of your cart’s model year and design will pay off in the later stages.
Moreover, it’s tempting to replace worn-out parts as quickly as possible, but using incompatible parts can lead to further complications down the road. Especially for those restoring electric models, one shouldn’t overlook the electrical system. Aging wires can deteriorate, becoming potential safety hazards, so an entire system check is often necessary.
Find Authentic Parts
Finding authentic parts for these vintage carts can be a bit of an adventure. Dedicated forums and online communities often house invaluable information and resources. Harley-Davidson aficionados frequently share their own findings and advice, making these forums a treasure trove for restorers. Vintage cart dealers, though not as common, sometimes have a stash of old parts or can at least direct you to a trusted supplier.
On the off chance, estate sales or auctions can surprise you with authentic parts or even entire carts up for grabs. Lastly, never underestimate the knowledge within Harley-Davidson clubs. These local or national groups can be essential networks for sourcing those elusive components.
As for the restoration process itself, it’s methodical. Start with a thorough assessment of your cart’s current state, noting every detail that requires attention. With your list in hand, research the specifics for each part, ensuring you have the right components for your cart’s model and year. Once you’re armed with knowledge, disassemble the cart. This step can be daunting, so taking photographs for reference can be invaluable. With the cart in pieces, it’s easier to clean and inspect each part, helping to identify any that may be beyond repair. The hunt for parts comes next.
Sourcing might be time-consuming, but it’s worth the effort. Once you have everything, the actual restoration can begin. Address any structural issues with the frame first, then move on to the mechanical or electrical components. With everything in working order, the final touches, like paint and upholstery, will bring the cart back to its original glory. However, the work doesn’t end there. Regular maintenance ensures your cart remains in pristine condition, ready to show off on the greens or in a parade of vintage vehicles.
Harley-Davidson Golf Manuals
If you are planning on restoring your Harley Davidson by yourself, then you should definitely consider getting a golf cart manual specific to your HD golf cart. A lot of online vendors carry these manuals, or you can check out online auctions where previous owners may be chucking their old manuals.
Harley Davidson Serial Numbers
1963 – 1982: To find Harley Davidson golf cart serial numbers, check the rear tire on the driver’s side, a metal plate with the serial number should be located on the rear frame cross brace. If you have an electric model, then it might be located on a metal plate behind the batteries.
Harley Davidson Golf Cart Prices
Valuing these golf carts is difficult because most will be in various states of repair or disrepair. A lot that are selling online, on Craigslist, at auctions, and most other dealers are selling for anywhere from $500 to $5,000. While this seems like a good deal, most of these carts don’t even run and require a great deal of restoration to return to working order. Be sure to consider how much time and money it will take to get the cart running again. A good deal can quickly turn into a bad deal when replacement parts are scarce and expensive.
If you’d still like to find and restore an old Harley Davidson golf cart you might get lucky and find one at your local salvage yard. But if you’re in any sort of hurry then you’d have an easier time finding a seller else-where.
How Much Should You Sell Your Cart For?
If you are looking to find out how much to price a Harley Davidson golf cart to sell, you can try jumping onto golf cart forums and asking around — golf cart enthusiasts will be more than happy to help you figure out a price, and you might even find a buyer!
Or you can lurk around online auctions for similar models and watch the auctions to see how much the carts are being sold for. Keep in mind that location may be an issue for buyers. Local buyers probably won’t have a problem, but shipping and freight costs may cause you to consider a lower price if there are no buyers in your local area.
If you are using Craiglist to advertise your cart, consider posting your advertisement in larger cities nearby. Harley Davidson golf cart enthusiasts may be willing to travel a greater distance for another vintage HD golf cart to add to their collection.
Events and Gatherings
Harley-Davidson is not just a brand; it’s a lifestyle, a culture. While most associate the name with roaring motorcycles and leather jackets, there’s a niche group of enthusiasts who have a deep appreciation for the Harley-Davidson golf carts. Their passion for restoring and showcasing these vintage machines has led to the formation of several clubs, organizations, and events.
Clubs and Organizations
- Harley Davidson Golf Cart Enthusiast Clubs: There are numerous local clubs across the country dedicated to these unique carts. These clubs often organize monthly meetings, drives, and workshops where members can share their knowledge, parts resources, and restoration tips.
- National Vintage Golf Cart Associations: Larger than the local clubs, these associations often have members who own various vintage golf cart brands, including Harley-Davidson. They provide a platform for networking, sharing restoration stories, and trading parts on a national scale.
- Annual Harley-Davidson Golf Cart Rallies: These events are a treat for any enthusiast. Owners from all over gather to showcase their meticulously restored carts, participate in drives, and compete for titles like “Best Restored Cart” or “Most Unique Design.”
- Swap Meets: Often organized alongside rallies, these events are goldmines for those looking for specific parts, manuals, or even entire carts in need of restoration. They’re also excellent venues for beginners seeking advice on starting their restoration journey.
- Golf Cart Parades: Especially in towns with a rich golfing history or a significant Harley-Davidson presence, annual parades featuring vintage golf carts have become a local attraction. These events are not just about showcasing the carts but celebrating the culture and history of the brand and the sport.
- Workshops and Restoration Camps: Aimed at both beginners and seasoned restorers, these events offer hands-on training sessions, demonstrations, and Q&A sessions with expert restorers. They’re invaluable for anyone looking to improve their restoration skills or troubleshoot specific problems.
In today’s digital age, physical distance is no longer a barrier. There are several online forums, social media groups, and websites dedicated to Harley-Davidson golf cart enthusiasts. Sites like the Harley Davidson Golf Cart Forum offer a virtual platform for members to share experiences, post before-and-after photos, seek advice, and even organize virtual meet-ups or webinars.
In conclusion, the world of Harley-Davidson golf carts is rich and vibrant. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or someone who’s just discovered the allure of these vintage machines, there’s a community out there waiting to welcome you, share stories, and fuel your passion.