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39WLA Prototype

And everyone thought this one no longer existed.

The oldest known WLA is the 1940 WLA ... Until now, this is the precursor, the 1939 WLA Prototype. Only 2 of this model were made . They were made and delivered in August 1939 under Army contract W-398-QM-7238. The requirements for this delivery were discussed at a meeting between William J. Harley, L. F. Hosley (Indian) and Major J. Van Ness Ingram and LT. Col. H. J. Lawes of Quartermaster, the Army's procurement and control service. This was discussed at the Holabird Quartermaster Depot on November 25, 1938. These 2 prototype motorcycles had the Army registration plate numbers W61995 and W61996.

This prototype is totally different from later models, the only part that remained the same was the oil tank everything else is 1939 and most even one year only. The deviations with later models are:

  • 2 bolt frame
  • 2 bolt gearbox
  • I beam front fork
  • early handlebar
  • fuel tank with naphtha valve at the bottom and not on top.
  • V-chape dach cover
  • flat front brake drum
  • stephub behind
  • round air filter
  • standing toolbox
  • different model fenders
  • carburetor Linkert M-41 and not M-88
  • straight running boards
  • taillight
  • 39 stamped crankcase
  • connecting rods are inverted in the block
  • ...

I have had this motorcycle for over 20 years. Once bought in a lot of WLA motorcycles. It was incomplete and had many faulty parts on it. Over the past 20 years I have tried to make it complete again as correctly as possible. On this bike are even the original stamped MILITARY tires. More info can be found in the book of Bruce Palmer (see pictures). This unique bike is not yet complete and there will be some wrong parts on it but it is a unique bike.




39WLA Prototype



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