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Motorworld’s newspaper №79
Test-drive video

In 1939, the Harley-Davidson Motors Co. released an army version of the WL – Harley-Davidson WLA, specially designed for the U.S. military. Even though its competitor, Indian Motorcycle Co., supplied its motorcycles for the army as well, it was primarily Harley-Davidson WLA that was actively used in military operations.

Harley-Davidson WLA was equipped with a twin-cylinder, V-type, L-head engine with a capacity of 739 cc and a maximum power of 23 hp at 4,500 rpm; it featured a 3-speed gearbox and special military-purpose equipment: ammo box, machine-gun support, rear mounting. The model also had two large leather pouches; well-developed tread plies; a low seat with a soft central spring, large flat footrests, a wide steering wheel with backward-curved handles, large safety rails, and controls on the petrol tank, which included battery charge control lamps. The motorcycle was equipped with standard U.S. army vehicle lightning. The Harley-Davidson WLA was often called “Liberator”.

A total of less than 80 thousand WLA 42 motorcycles were produced, and after the war, the surplus was sold to the general public. Usually, excessive equipment was taken off and the motorcycle was customized.

Manufacturer Harley-Davidson Motors Co., Milwaukee (Wisconsin, USA)
Years of manufacture 1939 – 1944
Quantity produced, units about 80 000
Price 395 $
Today’s value 6 382,9 $
Type twin-cylinder, 4-stroke, V-type (cylinders arranged at 45 degrees ), L-head, carburetor
Engine capacity, cc 740
Bore and stroke, mm 69.85 х 96.85
Engine rating 23 h.p. at 4500 rpm
Sparking Battery type, right-side kickstarter arrangement
Carburetor Schebler
Battery 6 V
Clutch Dry, multiple-plate
Transmission 3-speed
Frame type Tubular duplex
Front suspension Springer
Rear suspension Rigid
Brakes Drum type
Wheel size 4,00 х 18
Length, mm
2 235
Width, mm
Height, mm
1 041
Wheelbase, mm
1 460
Ground clearance, mm
Seat height, mm
Mass, kg
Gas tank size, l
Maximum speed, km/h
Range, km

* – Data from the results of the measurement of the “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov” exhibit.