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Thread: Sportster VIN question 1968

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    East TN, just north of Chattanooga

    Sportster VIN question 1968

    Hello Everyone,

    I was going to look a 68 sportster not too far from me and wanted to get some thoughts from the experts. The only picture I have is the RH side of the bike and the VIN. The cam cover is later (I'm no sportster expert) but its the kind without a timer. It looks just like a 1974 for example. Okay so I'm thinking maybe some one changed the cam cover and the right side engine case. But then there is the VIN. It does have a star before and after and it's on the RH side of the engine (again like a later sportster) but it doesn't match HD font and I think there are too many digits. Anyway I know there is no way this engine came from the factory serialized this way but can any of you think of a legitimate reason the case would be stamped this way? All I can think of is a dealer replacement. Your input is appreciated.


  2. #2

    Re: Sportster VIN question 1968

    That's a later case, vin would be on the left on a 68, plus too many #s

  3. #3

    Re: Sportster VIN question 1968

    Looks to be a factory replacement case. The texture of the case appears to be unmolested. My only concern is the very high number.
    Chris Haynes
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  4. #4

    Re: Sportster VIN question 1968

    Notice the VIN is stamped XL, not XLH, or XLCH, which is incorrect. The high number is way out of the box. If those cases were factory order, upon inspection, I would have returned them to the factory, and requested another set. I would not buy the bike.

    I ordered replacement cases for my wife's 69XLH back about 1980, they arrived with the serial number stamped on the right side number pad. They were multi fit 67-71XLH cases with number pads on both the left and right sides. I sent them back, and requested a set with the number on the left side, which arrived after a couple of weeks.

  5. Re: Sportster VIN question 1968

    Hi Guys Newbie here,

    I would like to second the do not buy advice.
    I don't know about new replacement cases now. But an Ironhead 900cc never came with STARS in the vin number. I don't think that started until 1970 or so.
    I do agree the XL in the number doesn't fly after 1959? The vin number in 1968 was stamped into a raised boss. On the left side.
    If you buy them you will get stuck with them. So if all you need is parts ....NAW don't do it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Western Australia

    Re: Sportster VIN question 1968

    Joe, as VPH-D mentioned, it is stamped XL as opposed to XLH or XLCH. Why? AFAIK the XL was available for 1957–59. There was a 60XL recorded on a race sheet in Illinois although I do not know if the SN was authentic. But a 68XL? And why so high? (For 1968 Sportsters the highest authentic-looking SNs I’ve seen are 14+++.)

    Replacement cases: sometimes replacements were issued but the old SN was used on said replacements. (Different BNs were assigned.)

    Something else that seems to have happened, at least around 1970–80, was that new (not replacement) cases were sold by the factory but their VIN was way higher than a normal production VIN. It appears H-D set aside certain blocks of numbers for this purpose and I have several examples of it for Sportsters and Shovelheads. However, the VINs on the new cases followed the normal 1970–80 format, including five, not six, sequence characters. Also most of the stamps used on the new cases appear normal H-D types for that period although some characters have a few twists thrown in.

    You could try contacting H-D Customer Service to see if that SN is on file. In the meantime, do those cases have matching numbers underneath? And do they have matching numbers behind the generator? And how does the current owner explain the SN?

    Also what about the even-odd code? How would the code be applied in this instance?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    East TN, just north of Chattanooga

    Re: Sportster VIN question 1968

    Thanks for all the input guys. I let it go

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