1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288

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Lot 115
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA

Engine no. 42WLA41288

Sold for US$ 24,725 inc. premium
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA

Engine no. 42WLA41288

Introduced in 1929 as a competitor to Indian's successful 750cc "flat head" v-twin, the Harley-Davidson Model D - better known as the "45" (its capacity in cubic inches) - really took off when the USA's entry into WWII created an unprecedented demand for military motorcycles, around 90,000 of the WL (military) version – nicknamed the "Liberator" - rolling off the Milwaukee, Wisconsin production lines before hostilities ceased. After rigorous testing in 1939, the US Army ordered its first batch of WLs in March 1940, with further substantial orders of machines from South Africa and Great Britain following soon after. These military Harleys benefited from the new aluminum cylinder heads fitted to the civilian version from 1939 and came with a full complement of equipment including D-shaped foot-boards, crash bars, skid plates, cargo racks and panniers. Designated WLA (Army) or WLC (Canadian-built), the Harley 45 saw action in just about every theater of war. "De-mobbed" Harleys helped meet the upsurge in demand for motorcycles in the immediate post-war years, doing much to establish the marque's reputation worldwide. However, WLA production started again in 1950 for Korean War active service having stopped after WWII, and finished in 1952.

The WLA's motor was a 45ci or 739cc, 45-degree flathead or side-valve v-twin which built itself a massive reputation for ease-of-use, both riding and maintenance, and longevity, and thus was perfect for winning wars. Developed from the earlier R-series of motors current between 1932 and 1936, the W-series, or family, of motors was arguably one of Harley's true benchmarks. "L" meant high compression (there was a low compression version – lower than the stock motor's 5:1 - but it was redundant and didn't last).

This WLA was purchased by the current owner after restoration in Europe, using new old stock parts wherever possible with insignia and equipment that copied the outfit that the seller's father would have ridden somewhere in Europe, as a Master Sergeant in the Motor Pool. The 45 is an easy start, and both idles and runs well, and the whole bike is presented in mint condition. It comes complete with a Thompson machine-non-gun – it has been made inactive. Total mileage is unknown but less than 100 since restoration.

Footnotes

  • Please note that this motorcycle is titled under its engine number.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this motorcycle is titled under engine number 41228.
Contacts
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Engine no. 42WLA41288
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