1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross

Few motocross bikes enjoy as colorful a history as Husqvarna’s 400 Cross.

Photo by Dain Gingerelli

The production-based motocross racer, powered by its all-new 396cc 2-stroke single-cylinder engine, began life in 1969, winning the first of two consecutive 500cc World Championships in the capable hands of Swedish legend Bengt Aberg. Success also followed Malcolm Smith and Gunnar Nilsson who shared riding duties aboard a specially prepped 400 Cross to win the 1971 Baja 1000, and that same year a 400 Cross propelled Mark Blackwell to become America’s first official motocross Open-class national champion when he edged Brad Lackey by one point as top American in the Trans-AMA Series. The 400 Cross legend expanded that same year when two 400s were among the marquee stars of a full-length feature film that summer; most recently one of those two Husky Hollywood starlets sold at auction for nearly a quarter of a million dollars. More about that later, but for now let’s see exactly why this particular motocross race bike deserves its place in moto lore.

The late Tom White, whose private and very exclusive motocross museum included a 400 Cross, once said about the bike: “The combination of Husqvarna’s precise handling and incredible horsepower made this machine a powerful motocross weapon.” White added, “The 400 Cross was equally successful in the California desert and Baja under riders like Gunnar Nilsson, J.N. Roberts, Malcolm Smith and Whitey Martino.”

Yet even as Husqvarna’s 400 Cross began its steamrolling path across America, Cycle magazine espoused the bike’s brilliance in its September 1970 issue, citing that “Everything about the big Husky’s appearance denotes its intent. Race and Win.”

Photo by Dain Gingerelli

Additional praise appears elsewhere in that Cycle test. “All structural members and parts are just the right size,” wrote the editors. “The forks interact with the rear suspension. The front wheel is easy to keep up. Power is seemingly endless. Just dial on as much as you have guts for. It’s not bolt-of-lightning power, it’s the water main type: the more you open it, the more comes out.”

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