1948 Harley Davidson WR Factory Racer
Engine no. 48WR2019
Introduced in 1929 as a competitor to Indian's successful 750cc sidevalve Scout V-twin, the Harley-Davidson Model D better known as the 45 for its capacity in cubic inches really took off when the USA's entry into WWII created an unprecedented demand for the military WL version. This 750cc sidevalve engine would turn out to be one of the longest-running Harley motors, ending its days in the 1973 Servicar three-wheeler. It enjoyed considerable success in dirt-track racing following the AMA's introduction of Class C for 750cc production-based motorcycles in 1938, intended to make racing more affordable for ordinary enthusiasts. Indian's Sport Scout set the initial standard but Harley was quick to catch up, introducing a series of ever more powerful versions of the 45, culminating in 1941 with the arrival of the first version built specifically for racing, the WR, available in dirt-track and WRTT road racing forms. In 1950 Larry Headrick, riding a WR prepared by legendary tuner Tom Sifton, won all three AMA national mile races to gain the coveted No. 1 plate.
This 1948 WR is a true survivor, presented in unrestored, as-last-raced form. It runs narrow half-mile gas tanks, retains the cut-down Big Twin rear fender fitted back in the day, and is equipped with period tires Goodyear Grasshopper at the rear, Firestone up front. Both gearbox and engine have been overhauled internally, though care was taken by rebuilder David Sarafan not to disturb their as-found exterior patina. Only the narrow primary cover and air cleaner cover are not original to the bike, as both had gone missing over the years and were replaced. With its matching-numbers ball-bearing bottom-end, WR cams, flat tappets, lightened flywheels, oversize valves, large finned cylinders and heads, four-bolt Linkert carb, rebuilt Wico magneto and "peek-a-boo" cam cover, the WR is an excellent runner, ready for display or vintage racing.