The history of Harley Davidson 1940-1949

The history of Harley Davidson 1940-1949

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The history of Harley Davidson 1900-1909

The history of Harley Davidson 1910-1919

The history of Harley Davidson 1920-1929

The history of Harley Davidson 1930-1939

 

Men

The history of Harley Davidson 1940-1949

 

After a few years of peace, in Europe the sounds of guns sound again, after the great economic crisis of the 30s that allowed the emergence of populist governments in the old continent, this was the end of something that started badly and that again Involved the same countries in a conflict of enormous proportions and that would propagate death and misery.

It begins with the invasion of Germany to Poland in 1939, which produced the declaration of war of France with most of the countries of the British Empire and the Commonwealth to the Nazis. Between 1939 and the beginning of 1941, thanks to a series of quick victories and abusive treaties, Germany conquers or subdues a large part of Continental Europe.

La historia de Harley Davidson 1940-1949

Image of the Second World War | The history of Harley Davidson 1940-1949

In the USA, isolationism and the American First movement by Charles Lindbergh continue to prevail. As in 1914, the country supplied armament to the Allied side, until the surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, forces the country to enter the war.

The new events make riding a motorcycle something more serious, the equipment changes from something more light and snobbish to something more serious, the leather begins to supplant the tweed, the aviator jackets appear in the market, the boots replace the shoes and aviator caps to golf caps.

Motorcycles are now heavier, faster and competition becomes something special in the sector. The riders of Harley Davidson, Tancrede and Campanale are now real stars as they beat the Indian again and again.

The new events make riding a motorcycle something more serious, the equipment changes from something more light and snobbish to something more serious, the leather begins to supplant the tweed, the aviator jackets appear in the market, the boots replace the shoes and aviator caps to golf caps.

Hollywood also makes its contribution to the sector when movie stars become fans of motorcycles and appear in various media riding on them popularizing their use.

 

The thrust of the war II and the origin of the myth.

The history of  Harley Davidson 1940-1949

 

During the war Harley Davidson delivers to the armies of Canada, England, Australia, Russia, France and of course, the American, about 90,000 units in total, especially the WLA model. Its function within the conflict was basically to be a vehicle for liaison, road control and for some reconnaissance mission.

In the Pacific Islands, American soldiers are surprised to see Japanese Harleys, the Rikuo, in Europe with the strange Zündapp KS750, BMW R12 and R75 of the Wehrmacht, which are also better, more resistant and with higher performance. In Britain they know the Triumph, BSA, Norton and Velocette, machines that could reach 160 km / h and were not as big or heavy as their WLA

Returning to the US having met motorcycles with outstanding performance far abroad, they begin to be fond of English brands, causing that after 1946 some 9,000 units are imported to the US. British factories have a hard time complying with orders from the other side of the ocean.

La historia de Harley Davidson 1940-1949

Image of Hollister 1947 | The history of  Harley Davidson 1940-1949

Young people returned from the race try to reintegrate into society with greater and lesser fortune, maintaining the spirit of camaraderie and in need of strong emotions, buy motorcycles and form the first motorcyclist clubs, which do not depend on the AMA and many of which are they transform into biker gangs. Those who can not buy English motorcycles, lighten the Harleys removing everything that is not strictly necessary, initiating the movement “BOBBER”.

In 1947 a biker meeting was organized in Hollister, which, due to a series of events, where the young people returned from the war are protagonists, becomes the founding event of the biker mythology. Harley Davidson does not feel particularly benefited with this and it really is not, but this helps her boost her MotorClothes collection of leather jackets.

The British motorcycles are a great success, but Harley Davidson does not despair, his Panhead, with hydraulic fork, which will be called Hydra Glide, almost equals sales of imported motorcycles. His most feared rival, Indian, falls precipitously, his dealer network is not what it was and his range of vehicles is aging.

In 1947 a biker meeting was organized in Hollister, which, due to a series of events, where the young people returned from the war are protagonists, becomes the founding event of the biker mythology. Harley Davidson does not feel particularly benefited with this and it really is not, but this helps her boost her MotorClothes collection of leather jackets.

 

Significates events of the decade:

The history of  Harley Davidson 1940-1949

 

  • 1941: At the request of the army Harley Davidson designs a Flat Twin with cardan copied from BMW. Moto that will have a short trajectory in the postwar period. Harley Davidson wins for the 17th time in a row the Jack Pine Endurance, predecessor of the Paris-Dakar.
  • 1942: Walter Davidson dies, replaces him in front of the company William H. Davidson.
  • 1943: The pentagon cancels its order of 11,000 WLA, which means 500 layoffs.
  • 1944: Death of William Harley.
  • 1945: The “War Production Board” only authorizes Harley to manufacture 6,000 civil motorcycles. The army sells its surplus, some 15,000 WLA units at $ 450 each.
     
    La historia de Harley Davidson 1940-1949

    Harley Davidson WLA 1942 | The history of Harley Davidson 1940-1949

  • 1946: Production is recovered. Foundation of many independent motorcycle clubs of the AMA.
  • 1947: Thousands of motorcyclists generate riots in Hollister, California. Inauguration of the Capitol Drive factory.
  • 1948: Harley Davidson launches the Panhead, modernized and more reliable version of the Knucklehead. He gives his name his butts in the shape of dipper (bread). The Hummer is put on sale, a 125 copied from the German DKW. It is a great success among teenagers.
  • 1949: In the Hydra Glide, Harley Davidson renounces the Springer fork in favor of a “European-style” telescopic fork.

 

Source: “Harleymanía” de Jean Savary

Klauer & Iannuzzi | 2018 | The history of Harley Davidson 1940-1949