Harley-Davidson celebrates 100-years in Australia

Bill Davidson will travel to Australia to celebrate 100 years since the first Australian dealership

It was 100 years ago that the Morgan & Wacker Motorcyles dealership heralded the arrival of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, with Bill Davidson coming to ride the East Coast of Australia, celebrating the milestone and raising awareness and funds for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Bill Davidson - Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee
Bill Davidson – Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee

Bill Davidson, great grandson of the legendary William A Davidson (a co-founder of Harley-Davidson) will join a group of Harley-Davidson riders on a journey that will set off from the first dealership outside of the USA and birthplace of Harley-Davidson in Australia, Morgan & Wacker, Brisbane. The journey will cover almost 2,500 kilometers, stopping at seven locations, traveling from Brisbane to Sydney, before finishing in Melbourne.

Bill Davidson, who is also the Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, said the brand has always had a strong following in Australia, since operations commenced here in 1917.

Bill Davidson

“Not many people realise that Harley-Davidson opened its doors in Australia just fourteen years after launching in the United States, so the 100 year anniversary this month is one to be celebrated. I’m so excited to join the ride from Sydney to Melbourne and experience the epic riding conditions Australia is famous for. I’m also looking forward to meeting some of the people who’ve made Harley-Davidson feel so at home here the past 100 years. The spirit of the riding community is just as strong here as it is in the US.”

1929 Harley-Davidson FDH Sports Solo
1929 Harley-Davidson FDH Sports Solo

Australia is home to a huge collection of vintage and iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles showing the dedication to the brand through the decades. Australia has some of the most special and sought after Harley-Davidson models in existence.

From a 1917 T-Model V-Twin at Morgan & Wacker in Brisbane, to the 1927 FHA 8-Valve V-Twin racer which is one of only six of its kind left in the world. This is housed at the Harley-Davidson Museum at Northside Harley-Davidson and is believed to be the only one with a side-car.

Adding to an incredible collection of bikes in Australia, fans will have the opportunity to win a one-of-a-kind Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special signed by Willie G Davidson by purchasing a commemorative pin at www.h-d.com.au/100years to celebrate the milestone.

Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Street Glide
Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Street Glide

Over the past 100 years, Harley-Davidson has reinvented itself. Some of the most defining models for the brand consist of the 1936 Knucklehead, which in its era was the first big engine overhead valve motorcycle to the iconic 1957 Sportster.

Significant developments were also made with the first Evolution powered range, the FXST Softail, followed by V-Rod and then most recently the Street Rod.

Northside Harley-Davidson will be holding a “100 Years Exhibition” from May 12-20, which will be open to the public during trading hours. They will have a range of over 40 Harley-Davidson motorcycles on display ranging from the early years (1914) right through all decades up to the latest Street Rod 750.

Street Rod 750
Street Rod 750

In addition to the 100 Year celebrations, there’s a lot for Australian Harley-Davidson enthusiasts to be excited about, including the global announcement that 100 new models will be released in the next ten years.

Nigel Keough – Managing Director Harley-Davidson Australia & New Zealand

“Since Morgan & Wacker introduced Australians to the Harley-Davidson brand in 1917, it’s been a part of the cultural landscape of Australia. Australians have an in-built sense of freedom and adventure. Couple this with the ideal riding conditions our country offers, and we have fostered a loyal and close-knit community of committed motorcycle enthusiasts. Our fans range from 16 to 88 years old, from kids, racers, school teachers, small business owners, movie stars to CEO’s, and celebrating our 100 years would not be possible without them.”

As part of the 100 Year Celebrations, Harley-Davidson has partnered with Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, to help those suffering from the debilitating disease Live Their Legend.

The program will see two patients from the Foundation ride with Bill Davidson and the Harley-Davidson group from Sydney to Melbourne, to help raise awareness and funds for brain cancer research.

At the conclusion of the ride, Harley-Davidson Australia and Harley-Heaven in Melbourne will donate $100,000 to the Foundation to help fund further research of such a brutal disease.

Harley-Davidson V-Rod
Harley-Davidson V-Rod
Iconic Harley-Davidson models over the 100 years in Australia
  • 1903 – Single-cylinder belt driven 3hp 405cc (the first model and only three ever made).
  • 1916-1923 – An eight-valve Racer 45-degree V-Twin 988cc, with a top speed of 115mph. A race bred motorcycle that raced against Indian motorcycles on board tracks.
  • 1936 Knucklehead EL – 45-degree V-Twin 989cc. This was a new engine platform for H-D.
  • 1942 WLA – Vehicle made for the military only (WW2).
  • 1948 Panhead FL – New engine platform, a 45-degree V-Twin 1200cc.
  • 1957 XL Sportster – New sports model to the line up with a new engine and frame, 883cc.
  • 1966 FLH Electra-Glide Shovelhead – A new Engine recalling the styling cues from the Knucklehead model.
  • 1970 XR750 – Flat tracker raced in the US on dirt oval tracks.
  • 1971 FX Super Glide – Design penned by Wille G Davidson, new model.
  • 1980 FXB Sturgis – Classic Style meets contemporary technology. First belt drive model.
  • 1984 Softail – New Evolution engine with all new frame technology.
  • 1990 Fatboy – An iconic H-D model introduced for the first time.
  • 1995 Road King – Combination of modern engineering with the styling of the 1965 Electra-Glide Panhead.
  • 2001 – VRSC V-Rod, the original V-Rod had a 1131cc (69.0 cu in) Revolution engine, producing a claimed 115 horsepower (86 kW) at the crank.
  • 2015 Street 500 – New LAMS compliant H-D.
  • 2017 Street Rod 750 – The most recent product launch in Australia. You can read our full test on the new Street Rod here.
Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750
Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750