This collection of 17 Harley Davidson Beer Cans formed this over the top air cleaner! I drove my motorcycle to Daytona Beach, Florida for Bike Week to get one can every year. … I cut out the top of the beer cans and pierced the bottom for breathing. Then used threaded rods to bolt the cans to the filter. AND IT SPINS..
I first heard this mocking brand name for Harley Davidson from my college roommate during my freshman year. (He rode a BMW motorcycle.) This would have been around 1974–1975 — a period in which the brand’s reputation was at an all-time low.
In 1969, American Machine and Foundry (AMF) bought the company, streamlined production, and slashed the workforce. This tactic resulted in a labor strike and lower-quality bikes. The bikes were expensive and inferior in performance, handling, and quality to Japanese motorcycles. Sales and quality declined, and the company almost went bankrupt. The “Harley-Davidson” name was mocked as “Hardly Ableson”, “Hardly Driveable,” and “Hogly Ferguson”, and the nickname “Hog” became pejorative.
Wikipedia entry on Harley Davidson’s “Tarnished Reputation“
In the mid eighties, however, the company began licensing its brand name to other products.
[In 1984] Harley started an aggressive licensing program that paid off big time in the years ahead. The first visible product of that effort was Harley-Davidson beer. … In later years, Harley licensed everything from basketball shoes to cigarettes.
Harley-Davidson: The Complete History
It’s rare for beer and cigarettes to be name-brand roommates. Marlboro toyed with the idea of launching a Marlboro Beer brand to go with the their cigarettes, but never fully committed.
Harley Davidson’s brand extensions into beer and cigarettes may be one of the few cases where a brand has simultaneously embraced both vices…