Harley Davidson 1942 XA

Harley Davidson supplied thousands of traditional 45° V-twin WLA and WLC models to the Allied military during World War II, but the company also produced a small number of BMW-style machines for the war effort. Although the WLA was a good all-around military bike, the US army asked Harley-Davidson to produce a shaft-drive machine and Harley turned to the enemy for inspiration. BMW’s R75 was virtually cloned and a test batch of 1,000 XA’s were produced, as were a batch of prototype shaft-drive Indians, the idea being that the better of the two bikes would be awarded a contract. Neither satisfied the army, which ordered extra WLAs instead, thus ending the XA’s brief life. The XA used a transversely mounted side-valve flat-twin cylinder engine, had shaft drive to the rear wheel, a four-speed gearbox, and plunger rear suspension. The XA was a prototype shaft-driven machine built for the US army that was ultimately only produced in limited numbers because of the success of the Willys Jeep as a battlefield vehicle. While it was built to the special specification of the US military, the arrival of the immensely successful four-wheel drive Willys Jeep changed the agenda as far as military motorcycle use was concerned, and only 1,000 XA bikes were ever made.
Harley Davidson 1942 XA
Harley Davidson 1942 XA

Harley Davidson 1942 XA
• ENGINE Horizontally opposed side-valve twin
• CAPACITY 45cu. in. (738cc)
• POWER OUTPUT 23bhp @ 4,600rpm
• TRANSMISSION Four-speed, shaft drive
• FRAME Tubular cradle
• SUSPENSION Leading-link front forks, plunger rear
• WEIGHT 538lb (244kg)
• TOP SPEED 65mph (105km/h) (est.)