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Back during the war years, the American military was going out of its way to come up with hardware that was better than everything the enemy had to throw into the fight. Established companies were tasked with designing said hardware, and there was no shortage of ideas.
Having just survived the Great Depression, Harley-Davidson jumped at the opportunity of supplying fighting forces with motorcycles and, for what it’s worth, it became the premier supplier of such machines: by the time the war ended, over 90,000 motorcycles had been made.
The two-wheelers in the WLA family represented the bulk of that output, but there were other bikes Harley made and tried to shove them under the military’s nose. One such product was the Experimental Army, or XA, a two-wheeler that, ironically, was built using German-made hardware.
The XA used an opposed twin, 45ci shaft-drive engine, reverse-engineered from the powerplant BMW used in the R71. It was a flathead and came tied to a 4-speed transmission.
Harley started work on the XA in 1942 and ended up making about 1,000 units before becoming convinced the Army had no need for them. It’s unclear how many survive to this day, hence every time one pops up, it’s bound to gain quite the attention.
And what do you know, here’s one, waiting to be sold from the Harley-Davidson Heritage Collection during the Mecum auction in Las Vegas at the end of January 2022.
What sets this particular bike apart is that it’s offered complete with a Tommy gun and ammo boxes. They’re not the real deal, but “authentic reproductions,” yet that doesn’t make them any less cool.
The seller does not say how much they expect the XA to fetch, but we do know it goes with no reserve, so the sky is the limit.
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