When Bill Harley came up with the new design Harley Davidson in the early 1930’s I guess you could call this 1933 Harley Davidson as being the ‘new generation’. The new design was quite a hit when released, and fast too being timed at over 100 mph. Harley Davidson had been making motor cycles for 30 years by now, having been founded in 1903 by Bill Harley and his school friend Arthur Davidson. Arthur’s brother Walter joined also. If any HD fans reading this haven’t ever watched the film ‘Harley and the Davidson’s’ do get the DVD’s, it is a great story to watch, and not just once. Bill Harley died in 1943 at a young 62 years of age.
During this period it was hard going for HD what with having the problem of dirty tactics by Indian, and then paying them a large sum due to a copyright argument. It was claimed to be Harley’s design but unfortunately he hadn’t put a patent on it. Then there was the agreement as it was called with Ford to build the 3 wheel delivery trike. That was a disaster with the specs being changed after tooling and design were in place. However HD did win out as they cancelled any further dealings with Ford and the Servi-Car as it was called went into production and continued into the 1970’s. HD still make a 3 wheel bike, but it is somewhat different to the Servi-Car as you will see here.
Harley Davidson continued to grow with dealerships in 67 countries, several manufacturing factories in America plus in 1998 a factory was opened in Brazil, and later one in India, plus taking over other companies who would support HD. Included was the Italian manufacturer MV Augusta but this was short lived as HD sold their shares a year later. In 1969 HD was sold to AMF, who virtually ran the company into the ground and almost bankruptcy, destroying HD’s goodwill and reputation. This changed after 1981 when Willie Davidson and Vaughn Beal headed a group of investors who bought out AMF. Willie was a very good designer, not unlike Bill Harley, and both always had a notebook and pencil in their pocket.
HD never seemed short of trouble. There were environmental issues, strikes, 2002 the Harley wobble as it became known on their Police bikes resulted in a cop dying. Financial crisis in 2009 meant closing 2 factories and 1 distribution centre, plus needed to reduce their workforce by 20%. That was a lot of jobs to axe. HD also tried to protect its exhaust sound from being copied but the court failed to allow this. That would be a hard pill to swallow, in a future post I will explain how this sound is made.
It is a joy to see bikes from this period coming back to life, to live forever hopefully so future generations will look back at us pioneers of transport.
Included in this video are 1933 newspaper advertisements and editorials
Thankyou to Jaap Booij for this video, and to Wikipedia. Photos are video screen shots.
1933 Harley Davidson Sport, often thought of as the hot road of motorcycles for that period. Dont know if it gets onto the road, and certainly be a show stopper if trailered around to shows.
An absolute beautiful restoration that is best described as ‘concurs’