Carl Fronk’s ugly green Sportster
Years produced: 1958-74
Total production: 4,900 (XLCH, 1968)
Claimed power: 50hp @ 6,300rpm
Top speed: 120mph
Engine type: 900cc (55ci) overhead valve, air-cooled 45-degree V-twin
Weight (wet): 205kg (452lbs)
Price then: $1,600
Price now: $4,900-$11,000
MPG: 40-50mpg (est.)
When Carl Fronk returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam in June 1968, the first thing on his mind wasn’t finding a job — it was finding a new Harley-Davidson Sportster.
“I walked into Chico’s Harley-Davidson in Trenton, N.J., which was right over the bridge from where I lived. I tried to cut a deal, but he wasn’t having any of it. But then he pointed to this Harley-Davidson XLCH and said I could have that for $25 off list price because nobody wanted an ugly green Sportster.
“It didn’t matter to me what color the bike was because I was going to take it home and paint it anyway,” says Carl. A week later, he was riding around on his shiny new black Sportster.
When Carl shipped out to Vietnam, he left behind a 1961 XLCH Sportster that he’d bought in 1963 with 900 miles on the clock, and used every day to ride to school. And two or three times a week, he’d have a blast at the local drags. He was 16 when he bought it, and Carl rode his Sportster until the day he got on the bus to boot camp at age 18. No wonder he dreamed about owning another Harley every day he was in Vietnam, and couldn’t wait to get his hands on a new one when he got back home 21 long months later — even if it turned out to be the ugly green one.
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