Vintage Motorcycle Insurance: History of Harley-Davidson
Harley-Davidson Motor Company is one of the oldest and most renowned American motorcycle manufacturers in the world. The brand has notoriety among collectors and motorcycle enthusiasts who enjoy the craftsmanship, majesty and power of these bikes. Over the years, Harley-Davidson has become a household name and symbol of American ingenuity and spirit.
Ever wonder how the legend got its start? It all started in 1903 in a 10×15 foot wooden shed, where founders William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built their first motorcycle to sell to the public. While production was small and sales were slow at first, business began to improve in 1908 when their Endurance performance model gain notoriety at the 7th Annual Federation of American Motorcyclists Endurance and Reliability Contest. Ridden by Walter Davidson, brother of company founder William, the Harley-Davidson scored a perfect 1,000 points when ranked by the contest, and later set the fuel economy record at 188.234 miles per gallon. Word quickly spread about the durability and strength of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle and demand rapidly increased.
Harley-Davidson also has an extensive military history which began when they were asked by the U.S. military to supply motorcycles for an expedition a few years prior to World War I. During the First World War, Harley provided about 15,000 machines to the military forces during. By 1920, Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, with dealers in over 67 countries. By this time the small 10×15 shed had long been discarded in exchange for a full production operation which had cranked out nearly 30 thousand machines. Harley-Davidson struggled to survive during the Great Depression but was able to diversify their services enough to get by. During this time Harley manufactured industrial powerplants based on their motorcycle engines, and three-wheeled delivery vehicles called Servi-Cars, which could remain in production into the 1970’s.
Through the years, Harley continued supplying the American military and police forces with motorcycle vehicles. The WLA line was the most common military-specific model designed and produced by Harley Davidson during World War II and again for the Korean War. The XA model was originally commissioned for the U.S. military to compete with the foreign motorcycles being produced at the time, however the model was eclipsed by the emerging Jeep four-wheeled military vehicle and was never set into full production. There were only 1,000 Harley XA models ever produced, making them rare and prized treasures for collectors.
Over the years, Harley has dabbled in the production of small, two-stroke engine models, however they found their niche and prominence by producing both racing bikes and commercial durable and powerful motorcycles with great capacity for customization.
At Condon Skelly we love classic or vintage motorcycles as much as you do and are passionate about keeping them safe. We specialize in insuring classic, antique and vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles, because we understand their true value to their owners. We invite you to contact us today for more information or give us a call at (866) 291-5694.