After 30 Years, Harley's Heritage Softail Is Still the Most Distinctive American Motorcycle

A 1986 retread of a 1949 classic turning heads in 2016

In 1981, business wasn't looking so great at Harley-Davidson. The company's bikes—legendary as they were—had been struggling to climb from an industry-wide slump created by Japanese makers flooding the market with cheap brands. Harley hit back in 1984 with the introduction of its new V-twin Evolution engine, but it would take the vision of Willie G. Davidson to work the magic that came next. Tapping into the rich heritage of the company his grandfather had co-founded, Davidson designed a new model that brought back the classic look of Harleys from the 1950s.