Harley-Davidson is best known worldwide for its production of motorcycles, but from the earliest beginnings it was a diverse company delivering a variety of products. Letterhead from 1905 referred to a product line that included: “motor cycles, motor cycle motors, marine motors, reversable propellers and automatic float feed carburetors.” The ability to change and adapt to fit customer needs for over a century has remained central to the company’s business model. Here are five items you might not know the Motor Company produced.
Main Image Caption: The Harley-Davidson Forecar was the first three-wheeled motorcycle produced by Harley-Davidson, from 1913 to 1915
Harley-Davidson’s first three-wheeled vehicle was the Forecar, used for commercial delivery. Lasting only three years, it was produced between 1913 and 1915 and was offered in only one model. The Forecar used a standard Harley-Davidson® twin cylinder chain drive motorcycle with the front fork and front wheel replaced with a delivery box over two front wheels connected to the steering head. The Forecar had a 600-pound payload capacity and was used to deliver everything from mail to groceries.
Caption: The Forecar was built specifically for commercial use.
Worthington Overgreen lawnmower engines:
In 1929 Harley-Davidson began supplying single cylinder side-valve engines to the Worthington Mower Company to power their Overgreen model lawnmowers. Charles Campbell Worthington invented the large commercial mower to cut the grass on the newly emerging professional golf courses after the previous practice of using grazing sheep was deemed unsuccessful. Harley-Davidson supplied engines to Worthington throughout the Great Depression.
Caption: Worthington Mower Company produced commercial-grade grass mowing machines, powered by engines purchased from Harley-Davidson.
Based on the successful Model D Golf Car, in 1965 Harley-Davidson debuted the Utilicar for the 1966 model year. Two models were produced, an electric version for use inside factories and a gasoline version for outdoor use. The Utilicar had a 750-pound payload capacity and the gasoline version was capable of speeds up to 32 mph. Five different cargo combinations were also available: flatbed, steel cargo box, stake box, cargo stake box and personnel carrier. It could also be ordered with an optional fiberglass cab enclosure.
Caption: The Utilicar is one of the lesser-known vehicles produced by H-D, based on the existing golf car chassis, but with larger payload capacity in the back and partially enclosed cab.
LR-64 Drone Rocket Engine:
Beginning in the mid-1960s, AMF entered into a contract building small rocket engines for the U.S. military. The contract continued through the AMF Harley-Davidson merger era (1969-1981) and beyond. The Motor Company produced the small LR-64 engine for nearly 30 years. The engine’s purpose was to propel the AQM-37A Supersonic target drone for the U.S. military. The drones were used to simulate incoming intercontinental ballistic missile attacks from foreign aggressors in jet fighter training exercises.
Caption: Target drones were unmanned aircraft, built for the purposes of military target practice and were powered by rocket engines made by Harley-Davidson.
The Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Company in Tomahawk, Wisconsin was purchased by Harley-Davidson in 1961. Harley-Davidson continued to produce Tomahawk boats until 1965. But the company had a growing need for fiberglass manufacturing capabilities in order to supply golf car, Servi-Car and sidecar bodies, as well as motorcycle fairings and saddlebags. For the boats, several different lengths and versions were produced ranging in size from an 11-foot fishing model to an 18-foot pleasure craft. Both inboard and outboard engine configurations were available as well
Caption: Harley-Davidson purchased the Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Company in 1961 because of its existing capacity to produce fiberglass. H-D kept boat production in tandem with motorcycle accessories for a brief time until boat production ended in 1965.