1903 in Milwaukee William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson make the first
production Harley-Davidson® motorcycle available to the public . The
factory in which they worked was a 10 x 15-foot wooden shed with the
words "Harley-Davidson Motor Company" crudely scrawled on the door.
Arthur's brother, Walter, later joins their efforts.
1905 On July 4th, a H-D motorcycle wins a 15 mile race in Chicago with a
time of 19:02. In Milwaukee, the first full-time employee is hired.
1909 The six-year-old Harley-Davidson Motor Company introduces its first
V-twin powered motorcycle.
1910 The famed "Bar & Shield" logo is used for the first time.
1914 Sidecars are made available to Harley-Davidson buyers.
1917 During this year, roughly one-third of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles
produced are sold to the U.S. military. The Quartermasters School, a
department of Harley-Davidson devoted to training military mechanics on
1918 Almost half of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles produced are sold for
use by the U.S. military in World War I. At War's end, it is estimated that the
Army used some 20,000 motorcycles in their efforts, most of which were
• 1920 Harley-Davidson is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the
• 1925 Gas tanks on all models now have a distinct teardrop shape.
This basic appearance is set for all subsequent Harley-Davidson
• 1929 The 45 cubic inch V-twin engine (later to be known as the
"flathead") is introduced on the D model. The engine proves to be so
reliable that variations of it are available on Harley-Davidson
motorcycles as late as 1973.
1936 Harley-Davidson introduces the EL, an overhead valve, 61 cubic inch
powered bike. With increased horsepower and bold styling changes, the
motorcycle quickly earns the nickname of "Knucklehead," due to the shape
of its rocker boxes.
1941 America is plunged into World War II. Production of civilian
motorcycles is almost entirely suspended in favor of military production.
1947 Harley-Davidson begins selling what will become the classic black
leather motorcycle jacket.
1948 New features are added to the 61 and 74 overhead valve engines,
including aluminum heads and hydraulic valve lifters. Also new are the one
piece, chrome plated rocker covers shaped like cake pans. The nickname
"Panhead" only seemed logical.
1950 Harley-Davidson riders win 18 of 24 National Championships and set
six new racing records.
1953 Harley-Davidson celebrates its 50th Anniversary in style. An attractive
logo is created, depicting a "V" in honor of the engine.
1956 The new young star Elvis Presley poses for the cover of the May
Enthusiast sitting on a 1956 model KH.
1966 The first of the "Shovelhead" engines replacing the Panhead.
1969 Harley-Davidson merges with the American Machine and Foundry
Company (AMF), a longtime producer of leisure products and the family of
founders stay out of the company.
1971 In response to the customizing craze, Harley-Davidson introduces the FX
1200 Super Glide®, which combined a sporty front end with the frame and
powertrain of the FL series. A new class of motorcycle, the cruiser, is born.
1981 On February 26, thirteen Harley-Davidson senior executives sign a letter
of intent to purchase Harley-Davidson Motor Company from AMF. By mid-June,
the buyback is official, and the phrase "The Eagle Soars Alone" becomes a
rallying cry and the family go back to the company..
1983 One of Harley-Davidson's most unique endeavors begins: Harley Owners
Group®. Fondly referred to as H.O.G.®, the Group immediately becomes the
largest factory-sponsored motorcycle club in the world
1987 Harley-Davidson unveils the 1340cc V²® Evolution® engine on five
models including the all-new Softail®.
1990 Upon its introduction, the FLSTF Fat Boy® almost instantaneously
becomes a modern legend of motorcycle design. This model appeared in
1993 Harley-Davidson celebrates its 90th Anniversary in Milwaukee with a
Family Reunion. An estimated 100,000 people ride in a parade of
1995 The classically-styled FLHR Road King® is introduced.
1997 A new 217,000 sq. ft. Product Development Center opens next to the
Capitol Drive plant in Milwaukee. The building is dedicated to Willie G.
1998 A new assembly facility opens in Manaus, Brazil, the first operations
outside of the U.S.
2001The VRSCA V-Rod® is introduced for the 2002 model year. Inspired
by the VR-1000 racing motorcycle, the V-Rod is Harley-Davidson's first
motorcycle to combine fuel injection, overhead cams and liquid cooling,
delivers 115 horsepower and is a joint venture of HD and Porsche Motors.
2003 More than 250,000 people come to Milwaukee for the final stop of the
Open Road Tour and the Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Celebration
2008 The all new Harley-Davidson Museum opens in Milwaukee on July 12.