The Buyback

From The Archives

The AMF Purchase

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. 

This 1971 advertising photo shows the great places riders can reach on their touring bikes.


January 8, 2019 marked 50 years after AMF (American Machine and Foundry) purchased Harley-Davidson Motor Co. The following twelve years was the only time that Harley-Davidson was not independent. Over the course of 1968, AMF competed against another company, Bangor Punta to purchase Harley-Davidson. The contentious period included to a bidding battle for H-D stock and a lawsuit filed by Bangor Punta against AMF, H-D and the H-D Board of Directors. Harley-Davidson’s executives were adamant that the company not sell to Bangor Punta.  

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.