Concours bound: 1969 Husqvarna Twin
September 18, 2012
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The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d'Elegance offers classes for a range of motorcycle types and eras. Please download an application to join us in Las Vegas this Nov. 17.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d'Elegance bike show always brings out some amazing motorcycles, from perfectly restored show bikes to one-of-a-kind fully original collectibles. One of the rarest machines we will see at this year's Concours is this 1969 Husqvarna 500cc twin owned by American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Board Member Tom White.
White's Husqvarna 500 twin traces its beginning to Swedish roadracer Bo Grannath, who persuaded Husqvarna engineer Ruben Helmin to graft two Husky 250 cylinders onto a single case. The prototype engine was finished in 1968.
Test riders Rolf Tibblin and Torsten Hallman decided that the engine's dimensions were too bulky for motocross, although in 1969 Gunnar Nilsson won the European FIM Cup on the bike. The European FIM Cup was a series developed for 501cc to 750cc engines as a way of keeping outmoded British four-strokes alive. Nilsson raced a 504cc version the Husky twin and dominated the short-lived championship.
Tom White's 1969 Husqvarna 500 Twin
Nilsson's victory convinced American importer Edison Dye that the engine would be great for the Baja 1000. Husky rebuilt one of the roadrace engines to 492cc, and Malcolm Smith, Carl Berggren, Gunnar Nilsson and J.N. Roberts rode the 302-pound twin to victory in Baja.
Dye requested 100 Baja Invader five-speed twins to sell, but only 10 engines were ever built (two for roadracing and seven for sidecar racing). Husqvarna's total run of off-road 500 twins was one bike. Why wasn't the engine ever put into production? According to Gunnar Lindstrom, "The four-speed gearbox was marginal, even on the 400cc single."
The 1969 Baja 1000 winner remained in Edison Dye's San Diego warehouse for three decades. In 1998, it was sold to Twin Air's Franz Munsters, who meticulously restored the bike to its original specifications. Today, the supremely rare bike can be seen in Tom White's Early Years of Motocross Museum.
And for a rare glimpse at this even rarer motorcycle, get your tickets now for the AMA Legends Weekend, Nov. 16-17 at the Red Rock Resort, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nev.