The same year as the purchase, AMF was the owner of several brands and businesses. Some of them were Voit sports equipment, Ski-Daddler snowmobiles, lawnmowers, French fry baggers, cigarette packing machines and electrical products.
The AMF years can be mischaracterized as lacking in bright spots. From the period of 1969 to 1981, H-D introduced new models and began use of an AMF factory in Pennsylvania. Capital upgrades for new product development paved the path for products that defined the later success of the post-AMF years, such as the Evolution engine.
It was also a challenging time. AMF drove a high-volume production strategy that was out of step with demand. Production goals were not matched by upgrades to manufacturing, and motorcycle quality dropped as foreign competitors were increasing their market share.
In June of 1981, AMF sold Harley-Davidson back to thirteen members of leadership for approximately $75 million. What came next was one of the toughest periods in H-D history followed by a stunning comeback.
The purchase price for Harley-Davidson in 1969 was $22 million. AMF Chairman and H-D rider Rodney Gott promised that AMF would not halt the H-D production of motorcycles.
(image to left): A letter from President William H. Davidson to shareholders announcing AMF’s new ownership of Harley-Davidson.
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