Beantown Baggers

1942 Harley Davidson WLA | If you want it, it’s yours

Some of us at BTB have a healthy obsession with vintage motorcycles and namely those of the WWII era.  There is something about getting the one step closer to the reliving of those days, though you know you’ll never actually be able to do so.  To think the dirt on the floor boards is from an American twenty-three year old who after listening to the world news on the radio about the German invasion got on this motorbike, left the farm in rural Massachusetts and went off to the Armed Forces Recruitment Center to go onto become a decorated soldier – is electrifying.  [More photos and story below]

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Given this motorcycle was born in 1942, this is likely its history – or at least I like to think it is!  As a brief history refresh, it was only until July 4, 1942 American forces joined the Brits in the air campaign, nearly a year after the Pearl Harbor bombing and Hitler having declared war on the United States.

Roughly 90,000 of these WLA’s were built during the war and became dubbed “The Liberator” as Allied forces began defeating the Germans in the back half of what was the world’s most violent armed conflict.  These machines themselves were said to be often the first Allied vehicles rolling through liberated towns. [more photos below]

Harley-Davidson-WLA-9-740x1110

The model was engineered to keep costs low as a reliable yet inexpensive motorcycle.  Whereas other bikes would be decorated in chrome and nickel-plated parts, the WLA wore less shiny, painted parts with expectedly, a motor modified to run on the exceedingly low quality of fuel that was used throughout the widespread war zone.  Sounds like the gasoline we only have access to today!

The WLA relied on a side-value system which was archaic for the time as it wasn’t efficient nor was it built with performance in mind.  Yet, its reliable service meant minimal maintenance – ideal for the theatre of war.  The fender size was reduced on both ends considerably from the original WL model as that’d lessen the collection of mud and debris that’d build up in the wheel arches.

Harley-Davidson-WLA-7

What we find so intriguing about this particular motorcycle is the ownership.  It’s been with the same family since ’72 and though it was civilianized after the war it has remained in original condition.  To us, this means the story may have remained intact.  Whatever it may be.  It is for sale here at LBI Limited for an undisclosed price.  Contact for inquiries. We are not associated with the sale of this bike nor are we with the seller.  If you buy it – we’ll come out and do a story!

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