By Kenneth Olausson
Two years after the Silver Arrow was introduced, Husqvarna decided to widen their product range. The 1955 machine now had a big brother that was equipped with a 200cc engine. It went by the name of “Golden Arrow”. The 1957 Golden Arrow was a top-of-the-line product and could match machines from rival brands Monark, Nymanbolagen and Crescent…
It started back in 1951 when the Husqvarna 230 model was developed. Powered first with the older 118cc power unit, then later the more modern and robust 175cc engine. Two years later the Swedish Six Days team won several gold medals. The internal name of the race prototypes was the 218 Sport model. But this so called "Dream Machine" never made it big-time in sales, although it was marketed between 1952 and 1959.
In Swedish it had the nickname of “Drömbågen”. Since the Dream Machine never sold to expectations, a new motorcycle was introduced in January 1955, stealing the name "Silver Arrow" from Mercedes’ successful four-wheeled racers. This newcomer had exactly the right styling needed to tempt many of the youngsters becoming interested in motorcycling during the next decade. Actually, the weapons factory in Huskvarna benefitted from almost two decades of income & developments, which can be traced back to the Silver Arrow. All in all, 11’300 units were produced in the province of Huskvarna between 1955 and 1964.
After a couple of years on the market it became clear that the existing 175cc power plant needed development. Increasing the capacity to 200cc this newcomer was soon nicknamed the "Golden Arrow". The engineers counted 15 horsepower under continuous load while the machine was only 10 kilos heavier than its predecessor. This made a subtle advantage on the market, where competition was now stiff with competing models such as the Jet Crosser, the Blue Stinget and the bike from Nymanbolagen all more or less in the same price bracket.
There were also many smaller workshops, producing "home-made pies", but they didn't sell too many units to be counted on the market. However, all of them relied on imported engines from the European continent. Husqvarna was the only manufacturer who produced their own power plants.
As the thoughts of an elder brother to the Silver Arrow came into mind, the R&D team were convinced that it was necessary to increase the capacity of the current 175cc engine. Therefore the team went on the hunt for a bigger cylinder. It was decided to order four different types of cylinders from a local German manufacturer by the name of Müller. These prototypes had the advantage of a traditional single intake manifold as opposed to many producers who relied on dual intake manifolds, which weren’t considered favourable for the new machine.
The first model year for the Golden Arrow was in 1958, although the machine was introduced in 1957. As previously mentioned the newcomer had a displacement of 200cc and was based on the successful Silver Arrow.
This upgraded machine used basically the same power plant as its smaller sister, but had a big bore 200cc cylinder. The gearbox had three positions and all in all this beast was capable of doing 100 km/h, which at the time was good performance. According to standards the lightweight tubular frame was a simple but elegant stamped-steel product where the engine helped make the bike stable as a part of the build-up.
Streamlining was also part of the styling concept and Husqvarna wanted no less, of course. Both the front forks with leading link and rubber links and the headlamp suited well into this modern, up-to-date design. The standard single-exhaust system trimmed more weight, however, there was later a Sport model, which used double-exhaust pipes. Immediately, the weight crept over 75 kilos but this was of minor importance for the export markets.
Externally it may have looked similar, but its colour trim was in black and gold, which made it easy to separate these exquisite pair of bikes. Some of the Golden machines were fitted with dual exhaust pipes to make it look snazzier, but even so the newcomer failed to attract. The colour scheme was not as attractive as the red/silver Arrow unit, which also influenced sales negatively.
The Golden Arrow was made between 1957-59. A mere 1’250 units were manufactured before Husqvarna dropped the model entirely. It was said to have one horsepower more than its little sister, however it never turned out to be any quicker than its 175cc sibling. On top of everything, the Swedish safety authorities had some issues with the 200cc machine. They thought it to be too strong and so violated the initial intent of the nation's original law, which was a machine below 75 kilos, ready to go.
Crucially, according to Swedish law restrictions, the new machine had a weight just below 75 kilos, which was the legal formality for using a "Lightweight Machine". In this weight classification both equipment and a full tank of petrol were included in order to make the bike legal for 16-year old teenagers with a riding license. The law was actually counter-productive and bureaucratic as the factory was inclined to use light and next-to-perfect components in order to make the 75-kilo-limit. The price of the Golden Arrow in 1957 was around $400.00 USD at the time. Today, the Golden Arrow is a much sought after machine as only a few of this attractive model were ever manufactured.