1964 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster

The Sportster's powerful engine earned it the nickname "King of the Drags." See more motorcycle pictures.

The 1964 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster motorcycle's impressive 883-cc V-twin engine outpowered most competitors of the era.

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After its 1957 introduction, Harley's XL Sportster gained a more sporting version called the XLCH in 1959 -- "CH" supposedly standing for "Competition Hot."

These were stripped-down models oriented toward on- and off-road work with magneto ignition, high exhaust pipes, solo seat, smaller "peanut" tank, and lighter overall weight.

It also featured the now-famous "eyebrow" headlight cover that remains a Sportster trademark. Harley-Davidson also offered the XLH, a dressed-up, touring-influenced version that was outsold by its sportier sibling.

Power rose steadily over the years, earning the fleet Sportster the nickname "King of the Drags" -- an unofficial title it would hold until the late 1960s.

Of course, this was at a time when most of its competitors were British 650-cc twins, which spotted considerable displacement to the 883-cc Sportster. And in drag racing, size matters.

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1964 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster Pictures

The XLCH Sportster boasted a powerful 883-cc V-twin engine.
The XLCH Sportster boasted a powerful 883-cc V-twin engine.

The 1964 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster introduced the Sportster's "eyebrow" headlight covers and shaved weight via a solo seat and small "peanut" gas tank.

The XLCH introduced the "peanut" tank and "eyebrow" headlight cover that would become Sportster trademarks.
The XLCH introduced the "peanut" tank and "eyebrow" headlight cover that would become Sportster trademarks.
Despite its high-performance aura, the Sportster lacked a tachometer, providing only a speedometer.
Despite its high-performance aura, the Sportster lacked a tachometer, providing only a speedometer.
Playing on the 150-mph top speed of slightly modified XLCH Sportsters, this Harley-Davidson ad claimed "Nobody builds a faster stock motorcycle."
Playing on the 150-mph top speed of slightly modified XLCH Sportsters, this Harley-Davidson ad claimed "Nobody builds a faster stock motorcycle."

For more great motorcycle articles and pictures, check out: