When Swedish MX star Lars Larsson lined up on this bike for the 1971 Indian Dunes motocross race in Southern California, his competition thought he was on a regular Husqvarna.
But Larsson knew better. He was aboard one of the rarest machines in the history of American motocross: a 400cc Husqvarna with a frame made of titanium. And he used it to win both motos and dominate the Inter-AMA series support class that year.
“Of course, my fellow racers came around wondering what kind of Husky I had,” recalls Larsson, who was instrumental in establishing Husqvarna in the U.S. and later went on to start Torsten Hallman Original Racewear, now known as Thor.
He told them: Hallman Racing had commissioned Pro-Fab to make a small run of light, strong and expensive titanium frames to accept Husky engines. Other weight-saving tweaks included titanium fork crowns, handlebars and axles. The fenders and seat base were thin plastic, the gas tank was aluminum, and various parts—including the brake pedal and ignition cover—were drilled to lighten them further.
The result weighed in at an amazing 189 pounds, or 25 pounds lighter than a comparable production Husqvarna.
The machine helped Larsson win four of six rounds of the Inter-AMA motocross series.
“It was a dream to ride,” Larsson remembers. “But what bike isn’t when you’re winning? ”
Though legal when it was made, the frame was disallowed for the 1972 season by AMA officials, who feared titanium would escalate racing costs.
As it turned out, Larsson didn’t need a trick bike to win. He went on to earn a gold medal at the 1971 International Six Days Trials, riding for the U.S. in Czechoslovakia, and he remained a top enduro rider through the ’70s. He was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002.
His titanium Husky, refitted with a 250cc engine after the original 400cc motor was destroyed in a car crash, is on display as part of the Museum’s “Motocross America” exhibit.