Willie G. Davidson, grandson of Harley-Davidson founder William A. Davidson, says he was born with gasoline in his veins and a crayon in each hand. From June 13 to September 7, the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee will reveal a little bit more about H-D’s de facto lead designer for the past half-a-century. Willie G. Davidson: Artist, Designer, Leader, Legend is designed to take the visitor inside the mind of the man who became Harley’s first design director, in 1963. Willie G. has created a string of designs that define Harley-Davidson to the world, beginning with the 1971 FX Super Glide.
You can’t get much more of an American icon than Harley-Davidson. Ranked among the most recognizable brands in the world, along with the likes of Coca-Cola and Apple, the manufacturer has overcome its fair share of ups and downs over the years but is still here to tell the tale. Needless to say it has certainly earned the right to celebrate a century and a decade of building two-wheeled freedom machines exclusively in the U S of A.
Every year since 1915, Harley-Davidson has put aside one example of each of its models. Call it foresight on behalf of the founders, but today we’re glad they did. It may be hard to believe, but prior to 2008, all of these bikes, along with other historical remnants of the company’s past, had been spread out between H-D’s corporate office, dealerships, private collections and even sheds tucked away in rural America. Sadly, but inevitably, some pieces have also been lost to father time.