c.1922 Harley-Davidson 584cc Model WJ Sport Frame no. 22130 Engine no. 22WF3515
* Rare short-lived model * Acquired 2007 * An older restoration
Inspired by the British Douglas, that likewise used a horizontally opposed twin-cylinder engine, the Harley-Davidson Model W would prove more popular in Europe than America, where the v-twin engine held sway. The Model W was introduced in 1919 and, like Douglas, Harley set its engine lengthways in the frame. Inlet and exhaust manifolds were siamesed on the right-hand side (prevailing wisdom reckoned that heating the incoming charge was a good idea) while the other side was dominated by a large external flywheel and fully enclosed rear chain case. Ease of maintenance had been a cornerstone of the design; hence the valves were removable via caps in the cylinder heads while the combined barrel/head castings could be removed without disturbing the engine. Displacing 584cc, the 6hp twin was installed in a frame of the 'keystone' type, open at the bottom, which used the engine as a stressed element, while other noteworthy features included geared primary drive and a unique type of front fork. Although not overly powerful, the Model W obviously handled well and possessed a decent turn of speed, as evidenced by a number of record-breaking achievements including setting a new best time for the Three Flags run from Canada to Mexico. Despite these successes, the American motorcycling public remained unconvinced of the Model W's virtues - and perhaps deterred by its relatively high price - and H-D pulled the plug on this promising design after only a few seasons. Production ended in 1923, by which time 9,883 machines had been built. Only 60 are believed to be on the road worldwide today, with only 14-or-so of these in Europe.
Like most Harley-Davidsons of this period, the Model W was offered in two forms: magneto ignition (WF) and magneto-plus-generator (WJ), the example offered here being one of the latter. A well presented older restoration, the machine was acquired for the collection circa 2007, which is when the accompanying Automotoclub Storico Italiano certificate was issued.