Harley snowmobile 40th anniversary

By: On: November 23rd, 201019 Comments »Updated: November 28, 2012

Harley-Davidson snowmobile 1971 Y398A Harley snowmobile?  Yes!  40 years ago, Harley-Davidson started selling snowmobiles.  They were advertised as “a new brand of excitement” as AMF guided them to expand their horizons for better or worse.

Today, the Harley snowmobile that was billed as “a machine so right only Harley-Davidson could make it” is a collectors item.

Harley-Davidson made snowmobiles from 1971 to 1975.  Like the Harley-Davidson scooters and mopeds from the 1960’s, the snowmobile adventure was short lived. Even though they were not a huge success, and overall the Harley sleds were not radically different than the competition, a Harley-Davidson snowmobile in good condition today can fetch a decent price.  They are not worth a ton of money, but they are sought after by collectors and folks that restore vintage snowmobiles.

Harley snowmobile 440 1975Forty years later, the Harley snowmobile still is cool, at least we at Motorcycle Information think so.

When their snowmobile was introduced for 1971, Harley advertised their “exclusive new transmission/drive unit with a 4.5:1 ratio for explosive acceleration of the mark” and their “10 inch disc brake”.  While they did have a twin cylinder engine, it was not the famous Harley v-twin that we all know.

A 2-stroke parallel twin engine powered the Harley sleds.  It was fairly similar to other popular snowmobile engines of the day.  The 1971 model had a 398cc Harley-Davidson engineered and manufactured engine that was advertised as producing “30 spirited horsepower”.

The skis had “exclusive Harley-Davidson-designed hydraulic damping”.  A few years later, Harley came out with the 440cc model, actually a 433cc, but named 440 since that was the common class for large-engined snowmobiles back then.

Harley-Davidson snowmobile 440Snowmobiles became very popular in the late 1960’s through the mid-1970’s.  It is amazing to look back now at how many companies were making them.  Famous manufacturers like Massey-Ferguson, Johnson, Evinrude, John Deere, and Suzuki might surprise some folks.   These companies, like Harley-Davidson, are normally associated today with other types of vehicles.

By the way, if you plan to do any work on these old Harleys or any of the others from that era, our recommendation is to get the Clymer Snowmobile Service Manual 1962-1986.  This is a huge book (512 pages) and covers Harley-Davidson and loads of vintage snowmobiles.

The Motor Company jumped on the “sled” bandwagon too, even though it turned out to be a short-lived venture.  With advertising slogans like “when it snows we reign”, Harley snowmobile owners probably expected H-D to stay in the snowmobile business longer than they did.

Even though 1975 was the last year of a Harley snowmobile, their ad for ’75 proclaimed “Count on us” and “we’re here to serve and satisfy you with the finest snowmobile made”.  We’re not knocking H-D for this since all of this obviously coincided with their infamous AMF years.

Harley-Davidson snowmobile in unrestored original conditionModel designations for Harley snowmobiles were the Y-398 and Y-440.  Buyers had the option of electric start or pull start.

In the Harley spirit, a line of snowmobile clothing and accessories was available from Harley dealers to go with your Harley snowmobile.  They even sold Harley-Davidson “Sno-Oil” two-stroke engine oil.  A cigarette lighter was another available accessory, which in modern times is known better as a power outlet.

If you wonder about the value of any of this stuff today, a pair of original Harley snowmobile gloves from 1972 was on eBay with bids of over $100 at the time of this writing!

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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19 Responded

  1. Anonymous says:

    for sale: 1974 Harley Davidson 440 snowmobile, 156 miles; garage kept – not run for 15 yrs. excellent conditon body wise, but would need a knowledgeable person to access engine. also, crates of parts, etc.

  2. derek deibert says:

    Hi Do you still have this harley sled for sale?

    Thanks,

    Derek

  3. Butch says:

    hi my name is butch, i have one for sale also i have had it in storage for 20 yrs. it starts right up on first pull but the carbs could use to be gone through

  4. Brad says:

    Hi, I have a 73 398cc Harley snowmobile it is in good condition. The seat needs recovered, the hood and winsheild are not cracked. The carb needs a kit, but motor in good condition, has eletric start. I have owned this sled for 30 years. Would like to know the value of this sled? I don’t know if I want to restore it or sell.

  5. SVB says:

    I have a 1971 1/2 HD 440cc I need to get rid of. How do I find the value of this thing? I can’t find anything anywhere.

  6. excetras says:

    i have a Harleyled for sale also best offer. excetras @ yahoo. com or call 6036622577 grover

  7. okeefe says:

    Trying to find the value of my 1970 AMF Harley Davidson Ski-Daddler with electric start and tool kit. Has been garaged for 20 years I am second owner. Runs and is in very good condition.

  8. Canadian Earl says:

    Hi I’m Earl from Canada and I want your sled. How much to sell her to me for?

  9. elsid says:

    If SVB reads this and still has the 1971 Harley 440, I would be very interested in buying. Please contact me.

  10. Wisconsin Drew says:

    I have a 1973 440cc Harley sled for sale. Has not ran for years, but it did run before it was parked. Located SE Wisconsin.

  11. Nick says:

    Looking to buy a 72 hd sled,butch if you still have it, e mail me at : nicksurmabizz@yahoo.com

  12. Chuck says:

    Hello

    Do you still have the snowmachine for sale?
    Thanks,
    Chuck

  13. Daniel says:

    i have a 1975 Harley sled for sale if anyone is interested call 814-271-9557…Dan

  14. Lorne Campbell says:

    Any one in Ontario Canada with a harley for sale . I will pay up to $500.00

    Thanks Lorne

  15. tim carnes says:

    I have three of these and use them in vintage racing, if anyone has parts or sleds running or not in New Hampshire area I’d be interested.
    Tim 603 986 5830

  16. david says:

    I recovered a HD Y398 from a rental property,left behind.It was outside,now inside since 07.I sprayed WD40 on moving parts.Drive line turns good,engine tight,missing skis,seat trashed,hood fair,no title,frame looks ok.$500 US.located 45 min north of Milwaukee. U pick up.262-689-8874

  17. Aaron says:

    I have a 1974 HD Y433 HD Sled. It doesn’t run but has all the original parts. Looking to sell it. If interested, please email me @ aflsth@yahoo.com.

  18. Ron Firari says:

    I am interested in buying a Harley Davidson snowmobile. If you have one to sell let me know.

  19. larry graham says:

    I have three 74-75 Harley sleds in fair shape, all are 440 models
    also have 4 extra motors and two more sled carcasses with motors
    $ 2000.00 fore every thing call me at 573-218-9674 in MO.