1986 Husqvarna AE430

Photo by Preston Ray (

Photo by Preston Ray (

AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Terry Cunningham is one of the most decorated off-road racers in America.

While Cunningham’s records are impressive all on their own, he is further distinguished by a trait that is uniquely his: He won titles on motorcycles with automatic transmissions.

This 1986 Husqvarna AE430 is the last Husqvarna that Cunningham raced to an AMA National Championship—the 1986 AMA Grand National Enduro Championship. It was Cunningham’s third enduro title in a row, and his fourth overall. (It also was the last national enduro title Husqvarna would win until Andrew DeLong accomplished the feat in 2014.)

The Husqvarna Automatic was a 430cc single cylinder, liquid-cooled two-stroke. It had three speeds, no clutch, a chrome-moly fame, a left-side kickstarter, an Öhlins monoshock in the back and a disc brake in the front. Husqvarna marketed it as a serious race machine for tight eastern woods, even advertising desert and motocross racers to take a pass.

Cunningham certainly proved that in 1986, winning another AMA National No. 1 plate.

His streak would end in 1987, however. Husqvarna was sold to Italian company Cagiva. Cunningham stayed on, but he said the philosophy was different under the new ownership. Whereas Husqvarna emphasized “what wins on Sunday, sells on Monday,” he said Cagiva approached the motorcycle business more like a straight product sale—“like selling washing machines or refrigerators.”

Cunningham’s championship Husqvarna is on loan to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame by AMA member Robert Hicks. To see it and other machines from the history of motorcycling in America, visit the museum located on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio.

American Motorcyclist March 2020