Few motorcycles have started more off-road dreams than this one.
Ridden across a deserted beach and into posterity by Malcolm Smith, this 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross starred in what many consider the defining scene from the greatest motorcycle movie ever made, “On Any Sunday.”
While the 1971 film is renowned for increasing the recognition of motorcycle racing in general, the scene at the end of the film, where Smith, dirt-tracker Mert Lawwill and actor Steve McQueen go play-riding by the sea, convinced countless Americans just how much fun the sport could be.
For that scene, Smith, an off-road racer and desert aficionado, was aboard one of the best off-road bikes of the day—a Husqvarna 400 Cross. Though relatively unknown outside racing circles then, Husqvarna was a force in international motocross, ultimately winning 14 World MX and 24 World Enduro titles through the 1960s and ’70s. There was more to this bike than movie-star looks.
Imported by U.S. motocross pioneer Edison Dye, the man who promoted many of the races that started the sport on American soil, Huskies had built an early reputation for 250cc and 125cc success. But in 1969, the company branched out with an open-class machine.
A bigger version of the popular, world championship-winning 250 Cross, the 395cc two-stroke single was a light, sharp-handling performer, known for excellent power and decent factory suspension.
Those capabilities, along with world-class talent at the controls, spurred the Husqvarna 400 Cross to competition success in the 1971 Baja 1000, where it was ridden to victory by Smith and Gunnar Nilsson.
In many ways, though, racing success couldn’t be as influential as the free-riding footage that capped a documentary about motorcycle racing. That scene in particular is credited with a reported sales spike for Husqvarna after “On Any Sunday” hit theaters.
courtesy of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.