29 August 1999
1942 HARLEY-DAVIDSON WLA
Frame No. 39374
Black and red
Engine: 750cc (45ci.), four tact two cylinder, 25hp at 4,700rpm; Gearshift: 3-speed with suicide clutch; Suspension: coil sprung front and rear; Brakes: front and rear.
Utilized during throughout the war, Harley-Davidson motorcycles were renowned for their reliability and ease of maintenance in moments when timing was critical. The motorbike on offer here is one such example of these historic combat Harley-Davidson WLAs that were sent to Europe and Russia to aid in the Allied effort. Unlike many of the others which were either left to rust or damaged beyond relief during combat, this bike has had an altogether different life.
As part of a mass shipment to Moscow during World War II, the bike was sent unassembled, which was standard practice during wartime as it minimized overall shipping size. The bikes however were never assembled and instead they were left in their crating boxes to languish in a sub-basement that served as a storage bunker during the war. The parts remained there until the vendor, an international businessman, made a discovery while in search of a storage facility in Moscow. When informed of the buildings sub-basement/bunker he ventured in for a look around and found an altogether amazing discovery - the entire room was filled with boxes of Harley-Davidson parts and motorcycle frames. Impressively, the majority of the parts were still packaged in shipping grease and as a result their condition was nearly as new. Following the discovery the vendor successfully negotiated the purchase of the building and its contents.
The motorcycles and parts were purchased and exported under a special license back into the United States where the owner commissioned a rebuild of the bikes by East Coast specialist Bob McMackin. The bikes were rebuilt using the original parts found in the bunkers and as a result most replacement parts were limited to rubber items such as tires and seals. The motorbike is reported to be in excellent overall condition and to be in fit running order, however, driven only sparingly. It was recently featured in the motorcycle magazine American Iron in an article describing the discovery of the WLA treasure trove and the ensuing restoration. This Harley-Davidson is reported to be properly titled and is accompanied by receipts of the restoration.
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