Harley Davidson WLA

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  • IMG-20190410-WA0000

Harley-Davidson 42WLA

Very nice and original WW-II survivor

General:

Model: Motorcycle, Chain Drive, Solo 42 WLA

Manufacturer: Harley Davidson Motor Company, Milwaukee WI, USA

Weight: 330 kg.

Crew: 1

Engine: Harley-Davidson WLA Side-valve design 2-cylinder in V, 45 cubic inches (740 cc), 23 hp at 4600 rpm

Transmission: 3 speeds forward

Dimensions: Length: 2,23 m, Width: 0,90 m, Height: 1,04 m

Maximum speed: 95 km/h

Armament: Non

Dutch classic license plate: ZF-28-28

History:

Harley-Davidson began producing the WLA in small numbers in 1940, as part of a general military expansion. The later entry of the United States into World War II saw significantly increased production, with over 90,000 being produced during the war.

Unusually, all the WLA’s produced after Pearl Harbor, regardless of the actual year, would be given serial numbers indicating 1942 production, therefore war-time machines would come to be known as 42WLA’s.

WLA’s were used extensively by US Troops for messenger and Military Police duties and thousands were supplied to other countries thru Lend Lease Agreements. These bikes were nicknamed ‘Liberators’ in Europe since they were ridden by troops liberating their towns and countries from German occupation. The name has stuck ever since.

The WLA motorcycle was soon recognised as a sturdy and reliable vehicle and for their Excellence in Production, the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company received the Army-Navy “E” Award on May 12th, 1943. Only industries that participated in wartime production were eligible to receive this award. Incidentally this WLA was produced on that day which made it even more remarkable.

The 42WLA would be manufactured over a period of 4 years; yet every bike would receive an engine number starting with 42WLA, even bikes delivered in 1943, 1944 or 1945. This was unique in HD’s history. The reason is not very clear, but it sure made Army paperwork easier. Although production details, parts or finishes varied, the overall appearance of the ‘Liberator’ remained the same throughout production. All 42WLAs were delivered in flat olive drab colour.
After extensive vintage HD research, Bruce Palmer devised a unique 42WLA identification system by cataloguing total production into 7 different types. This system has been adopted by most WLA fans and these different types are known as 42WLA Type I thru Type VII.
Most common type was the Type III of which roughly 20.000 bikes rolled off the Milwaukee production line.

Throughout its history, Harley-Davidson has been using a combination of letters to designate the different models it manufactures. The Model WLA is no exception.

The ‘W’ shows that the motorcycle is equipped with a 45 cubic inch, side valve engine, introduced in 1937 and first used on the Model W bikes. The letter ‘L’ stands for High Compression. It is however not indicative of compression on current models. And finally ‘A’ indicates a model developed for Army use.

Most WLAs in western hands after the war would be sold as surplus and “civilianized”. Many a young soldier would come home hoping to get a Harley-Davidson like he saw or rode in the service, leading to the post-war popularity of both the motorcycle and the company in general.

However, this also ensured that few nearly-original WLAs would survive in the US or even Western Europe.

This Harley:

This is a very nice older restoration. Great bike.

Will be serviced prior to delivery to be ready for the season 2019/2020!