1959 Harley-Davidson XLH 883 Sportster

Make: Harley-Davidson
Model: XLH 883 Sportster
Year: 1959
Registration Number: RSK 898
Frame Number: 59 XLH 1191
Engine Number: 59 XLH 1191
MOT Test Expiry: Exempt
Sold For: £5830

Auction Date: 19 September 2013
Lot No: 211

In late 1957, Harley-Davidson launched their new XL Sportster, which was an improved version of the Model ‘K’ 750cc side valve twin. The XL Sportster’s engine unit featured iron cylinders and heads, with big valves and Hemi combustion chambers. The model was mildly tuned and after just a few months of production, dealers requested that Harley-Davidson produce a machine with greater power. The result was the XLH; the ‘H’ designation was the high compression (9:1) that transformed a mild-mannered machine into a true sportster.

DVLA records show that this fine example was imported from Iowa to the UK in the early 1990s. It has been featured in The Classic Bike Guide magazine and also Harley-Davidson – The Complete History, both of which are included in the sale.

RSK 989 was purchased by its current custodian in 2008 as an incomplete non-running project. The three-and-a-half year rebuild that followed included the fitting of two extremely rare components: a reconditioned Harley-Davidson Fairbanks-Morse magneto (as used for the XLCH) and a Paucho of America exhaust system. All moving components in the engine have been replaced, so the XLH Sportster will require careful running-in. The motorcycle is now in good running order and in fine condition once again, in ‘Bobber’ style.

A new solid state regulator unit is supplied with the machine, together with Pillion footrests and other useful spare parts. The history file contains the V5C registration certificate, a service manual, a parts catalogue, wiring diagrams, the two aforementioned publications, photographs and others.

A superb opportunity to purchase one of the first ‘iron-head’ Sportsters, of which few have survived in such original condition.