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HomeHarley DavidsonThe WWII-Era Harley-Davidson That Was Originally Built For The Allied Troops

The WWII-Era Harley-Davidson That Was Originally Built For The Allied Troops

The WWII-Era Harley-Davidson That Was Originally Built For The Allied Troops
The mystique of Harley-Davidson runs the gamut from outlaw motorcycle clubs to mid-life crisis 9-to-5 desk jockeys and everything in between. Thanks to Hollywood, the lore of the American motorcycle company has become indelibly branded into our collective psyche. From a certain point of view, it can best be described as the modern-day equivalent of an old west cowboy’s horse. Harley-Davidson even served its country bravely on the battlefields around the world.
In 1901 William Harley drew up the first plans for a small engine that could neatly fit on a standard bicycle frame. Brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson joined Harley shortly after, and the first “motor-bicycle” hit the streets in 1903. The rest, as they say, is history. Harley, along with its rival Indian — which prides itself on actually being “America’s First Motorcycle Company” — were the only two bike makers to survive the Great Depression.
Fast forward to 1940, and Harley-Davidson began supplying the military with modified versions of its WL street bikes. The “W” indicated the standard 45 cubic inch V-twin engine, and the “L” stood for high compression. It slapped an “A” on the military models, which stood for Army, and became the WLA. The WLA was a respected bike, with nearly 90,000 made during its production run, but it had its flaws.

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