Is it because of nostalgia (if you were born before WWII), war tales told by your parents or simply because you consider it the best Classic Harley-Davidson? The WL and the WLA (A stands for Army) produced to US Army specifications from 1940 until the end of the war, continue to fascinate many of us. 90,000 were produced with many sold to US allies, including Canada (named WLC) and the Soviet Union which was sold over 30,000 WLAs. They were not used to fight but were on the front line of action, far ahead of the mechanized units, where US and allied soldiers were learning about enemy positions, spotting mines, traps and ambushes, and speeding back (45 cubic inches or 740 cc) to their lines or headquarters with valuable information. Most WLAs (nicknamed “The Liberator”) in western hands after the war would be sold as surplus and “civilianized”, with Europe still being the largest source of WLs and parts.
You can acquire and faithfully restore a WLA (not so easy to get all the original parts), or take the approach of a custom builder I know in France who decided to build from scratch this “883 XWL Warboy” look alike that you can ride every day without worrying because the bike is perfectly street legal and totally reliable thanks to its modern technology.
Builder’s objectives:” keeping the look but forgetting about the troubles.” I know that some purists among my readers are going to scream, but isn’t custom building being first about creating what is going to make you happy on the road? This new and improved version of the WLA is based on a 1994 sportster engine, 5-speed gearbox, of course is setup in 12 volts, with electric start, hand clutch and foot shift. All the rest of the bike is a quite faithful reproduction of the military WLA, from the body to the ammo box to the luggage rack (for radios) to the leather Thompson submachine gun scabbard to all accessories painted in a period correct olive drab. Trust me, a lot of research and fabrication hours… Built by Milwaukee Belle (his Blog, sort of biligual, contains some quite interesting historic WLA’s pictures).