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The 1981 Harley-Davidson Heritage Edition blended retro styling with modern suspension and brakes. See more motorcycle pictures.

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1981 Harley-Davidson Heritage Edition

The 1981 Harley-Davidson Heritage Edition motorcycle was a mixture of old and new, and only 784 of these machines were produced for 1981.

Harley-Davidson celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 1978, and one of the product highlights of that year was the return of an 80-cubic-inch V-twin, absent from the line since World War II.

Soon afterward, the "retro" look came into vogue at Harley-Davidson, a styling trend that continues to this day. One of the first products to combine these two features was the 1981 Heritage Edition.

The 1981 Harley-Davidson Heritage Edition motorcycle had a two-place saddle, headlight nacelle, green and orange paint, and other features seen on classic Harleys of yesteryear. It was also equipped with modern suspension and brakes.

Only 784 Heritage Editions were built for 1981, and the model did not return in 1982. With its time-honored styling and low production numbers, the Heritage itself has now become a coveted classic.

But perhaps overshadowing any of Harley-Davidson's product offerings in 1981 was a much larger event that took place in June of that year. After more than a decade under the AMF banner, a group of Harley-Davidson employees arranged financing and bought back the company.

While production and profits both increased under AMF, quality didn't. After the buyout, employees and enthusiasts alike took a new pride in Harley-Davidson.

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With its time-honored styling and low production, the Heritage Edition became a coveted classic.

1981 Harley-Davidson Heritage Edition Pictures

Introduction of the 1981 Harley-Davidson Heritage Edition motorcycle was not the only exciting Harley event to occur in that year. A group of Harley employees bought back the company from sporting-goods manufacturer AMF in the summer of 1981, restoring a good measure of pride in the proud old brand.

For those who wondered what to call the green and orange dresser, the front fender clearly spelled it out.

A Heritage Edition emblem graced the engine's primary cover.

Harley moved the choke knob to a more convenient location on the instrument panel, where the owner's name could be engraved on a special plaque.

The fuel tank featured old-style lettering and an AMF

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