Original Military – 1942 Harley Davidson WLA

In America, Cruiser by Tom WackerLeave a Comment

I have intimate knowledge of the ‘42 WLA. In 1980 a friend of a friend caused to appear in the US a new in crate WLA. I have seen photos of the original assembly and have seen many photos of the bike since then. This looks to be every bit as original as the one I have seen.


Harley Davidson introduced the WLA in 1940 with a small sale to the US Army. In the company nomenclature the W designates the motor, the L ‘high compression’ and the A means Army. Though HD made over 90,000 WLAs (30,000 were shipped to Russia) very few originals remain due to being sold as surplus. Almost all of those were ‘civilianized’ in one way or another. Many of the first ‘choppers’ in the US were chopped WLAs.


The 1942 Harley Davidson WLA used a 45 CID (740 CC) air cooled four stroke side valve V-Twin motor that produced 22 HP with a 3 speed tank shifted transmission for a top speed of near 60 MPH. Front suspension was a springer type and rear suspension was rigid (hardtail). Military equipment included bags, scabbard, black out lights, mud capable fenders, ammo box, rear rack and the OD green paint.

This particular 1942 Harley Davidson WLA (VIN # 42WLA 32999) (all WLAs produced during the war were given 1942 serial numbers) is in El Paso, Texas and is listed as a 149 mile original. The bike carries a Buy It Now price of $39,999