Announced in July 1929 as a replacement for the inlet-over-exhaust “pocket valve” twins that had been in production since 1911, the “flathead” (L-head or side-valve) Harley-Davidson VL “Big Twin” model line was developed and produced until 1940. While its twin headlamps, round toolbox and Klaxon-type horn were carried over, nearly all of the VL was new. Harley-Davidson’s 1930 sales brochure described the new 74-cubic inch motor cycle as “standing head and shoulders above all comers, with such startling new features as a 20 percent more powerful motor with Ricardo removable heads, interchangeable wheels, bigger tires, drop-center rims, lower riding position, greater road clearance, automatic increase of generator output, drop forged forks, 100 percent stronger frame, theft proof lock, dual front drive chain, improved clutch, and many other features making the 1930 Big Twin the greatest motorcycle value ever offered.”
Despite strong marketing and abundant features, the new VL was not an instant success. Larger and heavier than its predecessor, the first VLs lacked sufficient top-end power; early examples were recalled, and the engine was extensively redesigned. An enlarged crankcase and heavier flywheel improved performance and did the trick. With its problems solved, the big 74-cubic inch “flathead” became a favorite of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts.
By virtue of its “VLD” designation, this example from 1936 is a generator-equipped model with high-compression pistons. Finished in a very unique and factory-correct 1936-style paint scheme of maroon with Nile Green panels and rims, this high-quality restoration is accented by period-correct saddlebags and a matching black solo seat. Formerly on static display, it is a handsomely restored example of a sought-after Harley model.
102 Chamber Drive | PO Box 405
Anamosa, Iowa 52205
Phone (319) 462-3925
Fax (319) 462-3982
The National Motorcycle Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation
Donations may be tax deductable, please consult your local tax advisor