+31683251448 info@altenaclassics.nl Opening hours: After telephone appointment

Select your language

Select your language

Harley Davidson-Liberator WL750

Altena Classics en Harley-Davidson WL-750

Sellingprice: € 27.500,-

Altena Classics Harley-Davidson WL-750

This Original civilian version from 1947 is really a picture. Overhauled and restored, from Hoekstra Classics from Gameren. Only 3000 pieces were ever made of this civilian version.

We can offer beautiful and very rare Harley-Davidson for only € 27.500,00 grab this opportunity, it is a real gem among the classics, and will only increase in value.

Learn more about the Harley-Davidson Liberator WL750

The model number is broken down as follows:

W: The W family of motorcycles. Harley-Davidson (except very early models) provides a letter designation for each model family. The W series was the latest incarnation of the 45-cubic-inch (740 cm3) flathead engine at the time and was developed from the earlier 1932-1936 R-family.
L : "high compression", in the usual HD scheme. The "low compression" W model was only available for a short time.
A: Army. The company would also produce a model to the slightly different Canadian Army specifications, which would be called the WLC. The WLCs mainly differed from the WLAs in using some heavier components, mostly Big Twin parts, as well as Canadian blackout lighting.


Harley-Davidson began production of the WLA in small numbers in 1940 as part of a general military expansion. The later entry of the United States into World War II greatly increased production, with over 90,000 produced during the war (along with spare parts the equivalent of many more). Harley-Davidson would also produce a close WLA variant for the Canadian Army called the WLC and would also supply smaller numbers to the UK, South Africa and other allies, as well as fulfilling orders for several Navy and Marine Corps models.

Unusually, all WLAs produced after Pearl Harbor, regardless of the actual year, are given serial numbers indicating 1942 production. Thus, war machines would become known as 42WLAs. This may be an acknowledgment of the continued use of the same specification. Most WLCs were produced in 1943 and are marked 43WLC. The precise serial number, as well as the casting marks, can be used to accurately date a specific engine, and some other parts are year and month stamped. Frames and many other parts were not serialized and generally cannot be dated. This is customary prior to vehicle identification number (VIN) approval.

Many WLAs would be shipped to allies under the Lend-Lease program. The largest recipient was the Soviet Union, which sold over 30,000 WLAs.

Production of the WLA would cease after the war, but would be revived in the years 1949-1952 for the Korean War.

Most of the WLAs in Western hands after the war would be sold off as surplus and "civilised"; the many motorcycles available at a very low cost would lead to the rise of the chopper and other custom motorcycle styles, as well as the surrounding motorcycle culture. Many a young soldier would come home hoping to get a Harley-Davidson as he saw or rode it in service, leading to the post-war popularity of both the motorcycle and the company in general.

However, this also meant that few nearly original WLAs would survive in the US or even Western Europe. A significant number of WLAs remained in the Soviet Union and were either stored or given into private hands. With little access to parts and no helicopter culture, and no export path to the West, many of those WLAs survived the Cold War. Russia and other former Soviet countries are now a major source of WLAs and parts.

Military changes

Largely restored WLA originally shipped to Russia
The WLA is very similar to civilian models, especially the WL. Among the changes that make it a military model:

paint and other finishes: painted surfaces were generally painted olive or black, and chromed or nickel-plated parts were generally blued or parked or painted white. Some parts were left as unfinished aluminum. However, Harley-Davidson was apparently very practical in using existing parts and processes, and many finishes remained in their bright civilian versions for a while, and in some cases for the entire production run.
blackout lights: To reduce visibility at night, WLAs were fitted with a second set of blackout head and tail lights.
fenders: To reduce mud buildup, the sides of the stock fenders were removed.
Accessories: a heavy luggage rack (for radios), ammo box, leather Thompson submachine gun scabbard, skid plate, leg guards and windshield can be mounted. Most came with at least these accessories, minus the windshield or leg guards.
Air Cleaner: An oil bath air cleaner, originally used on tractors and other vehicles in dusty environments, was fitted to deal with dust from off-road use and to facilitate field maintenance. Oil bath cleaners only require the addition of standard engine oil rather than replaceable filters.
Fording: Changes to the crankcase vent reduced the possibility of water absorption into the crankcase.


US Army Manual diagram of the HD WLA.
The United States military would use motorcycles for police and escort work, courier duties, and some scouting, as well as limited use to transport radio and radio suppression equipment. Allied motorcycles were almost never used as combat vehicles or for troop mobility, so were rarely fitted with sidecars, as was common practice on the German side. Nevertheless, the WLA was nicknamed the "Liberator" because it was ridden by soldiers who liberated occupied Europe.


The WLA's engine is a side valve design, which is reliable, but not particularly efficient compared to overhead valve designs. Harley-Davidson already had production overhead valve engines for its Big Twin lines, but the "small twin" flathead design was popular in applications that needed low cost and reliability over power. This engine remained in production from 1937 to 1973 in the Servi-Car, although it was replaced in two-wheeled motorcycles by the more advanced flathead engine used in the Model K in 1952, the short-lived ancestor engine of the 1957 OHV Sportster.

Although the model designation suggested high compression, the military version actually used a medium compression version for reliability. In modern terms, the WLA's 5:1 compression ratio is very low. Due to this low compression ratio, a WLA runs on petrol with an octane rating of 74.

The WLA also has a spring-loaded front suspension. Harley-Davidson would not use telescopic front forks until after the war. The rear wheel had no suspension, which gave this type of motorcycle the nickname "hardtail".

Other military motorcycles

Harley-Davidson copied the BMW R71 to produce its XA model.
Harley-Davidson supplied motorcycles to the military during World War I and for previous excursions against Mexican revolutionaries such as Pancho Villa.

During World War II, the Army produced a specification for a motorcycle much like the BMWs used by German troops. That meant shaft drive, a boxer engine and several other features that made the BMWs exceptionally reliable and low-maintenance machines. Harley-Davidson produced the XA which was closely based on the BMW. Although it was an excellent machine, only about 1,000 were produced. Because of its new features and low production, the XA was expensive, and by then it was clear that the Jeep was the army's vehicle of choice; the less advanced but less expensive WLA was considered sufficient for its limited roles.

Other motorcycles produced by HD before World War II included American and Canadian versions of the Big Twin EL family, the ELA and ELC, as well as an Army version of the UL, the ULA. These were mainly produced for "home front" use, and not in very large numbers. Therefore, they are very rare today.

Indian, Harley-Davidson's biggest competitor at the time, also produced a wartime model, the Indian 741, and a longitudinal V-twin model, the Indian 841.

Harley-Davidson would later produce the MT350E, after acquiring the British Armstrong company in 1987. These were dual-sport machines, suitable for both on-road and off-road use, powered by 350 cc Rotax engines. The MT350E was a redesign of the 500 cc Armstrong MT500, which reduced weight, added electric start, and improved pollution standards. The MT500 started as the Italian SWM XN Tornado, which Armstrong acquired the rights to in 1984 when SWM was liquidated, and was subsequently modified for military use with help from CCM. The MT350E mainly saw UK and Canadian service, with some still in use today.




Mailing address:

 Altena Classics BV
 van der Dussenlaan 16
 4271 AP Dussen
 the Netherlands
 +316 - 83 25 14 48

Visiting address:

 Altena Classics BV
 Rijksweg 76A
 4255GM Nieuwendijk
 the Netherlands
 +316 - 83 25 14 48
Opening hours:
After telephone appointment