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The Willy G


I don’t often get to talk ‘bout myself but I thought all of our loyal readers deserve to know about my Willy! You see many of you punters/ readers have seen my Willy numerous times and might not have even noticed, I try to get my Willy in most every shoot I do and if you look closely you will find it, a kind of where’s Wally only it’s my Willy.

Chicks seem to love my Willy even when at first it looks too big once they sit on it they don’t want to get off and I often get asked for a ride and may I say not in a shy way plenty of babes have been on it and always seem to get off with a smile, why even Karen Davidson has been on it and actually signed it. It was the first time Karen had seen the Willy G and her signature was a welcomed edition to her fathers on my bags.

My ride The Willy G was commissioned by Harley Davidson and aptly named after Willy G Davidson. Willy and wife Nancy rode the “G’’ in the 1990 executive tour of Australia. For those who don’t know who Willy G Davidson is well let me say it’s all in the name Willy G Davidson. (Frasers Motorcycles was left in charge of producing the bike and one of the actual mechanics on the project was Lawless Magazine’s and my own good mate Steve ‘’Bullets’’ Butler and has fond memories of 1990 and the Willy G.)

Willie G is the son of former Harley Davidson president William H Davidson and grandson of Harley Davidson co-founder William A Davidson.

Willy studied at the University of Wisconsin and went on to study at the art Centre College of design in Pasadena, California and that was where he became aware of bike customisation. Before working for Harley Davidson, Willy worked for the design department of the Ford Motor Company and went on to join the design department of Harley Davidson in 1963 and was promoted to Vice President of styling in 1969, going on to designing some of the most iconic bikes of the 1970’s including the 1971 FX Super Glide, the 1977 FXS Low Rider.

In 1981, AMF (American Machine Factory) sold the company to a group of thirteen investors led by Vaughn Beals and Willy G for $80 million, Willy G was then elevated to Senior Vice President & Chief styling officer of Harley Davidson Motor Company and he is also head of Harley Davidson’s Willy G Davidson product development centre in Wauwatosa and also developed the FLSTF Fat Boy in 1990.

The Servi-Car was the first to be fitted with an electric starter and the Duo-Glide was then fitted with the electric starter and later became the Electra-Glide. The Electra-Glide was unveiled in 1964 coinciding with the unveiling of the new Harley Davidson corporate logo replacing the original logo of 60 years and it was the following year (1965) the Shovelhead motor replaced the Panhead motor and the company was floated on the New York stock Exchange and the founding families found themselves losing control of the company after 60 years.

The Electra-Glide is from the Bagger family, also referred to as a dresser and can be easily identified by its full front fork mounted fairing or the Batwing as it is known. A favourite mode of transport used by most of the American police forces and military the Electra-Glide has gone down as the most recognisable bike in history, most photographed and filmed and has appeared in everything from sitcoms to major films such as Paul Newman’s the Great Escape and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. The Electra-Glide remains one of the most popular bikes in the Harley range particularly in the USA and is often seen in large numbers in the many Rallies in the United States but unfortunately the Electra Glide is less popular in Australia with Aussie riders preferring the more ‘’naked’’ style bikes of the range.

The Electra-Glide is a tourer and comes with all the creature comforts for the long haul. The Willy G as with all Ultra Classics is fitted with a CB Radio, Cruise Control, rider to passenger Intercom, Radio/ Cassette (Later models CD), marker/parking lights and air shocks front and rear with the air valve for the front end behind a cap and mounted inside the left side of the handle bar.

When I purchased the bike it was pretty much a barn find and whilst being a somewhat collectable the bike was left out in the elements by former owner who lived in one of the harshest environments of Australia in the Snowy Mountains of N.S.W.

It’s always a hard decision to make when it comes down to what to do with a bike and a somewhat historical bike of this nature you find yourself wanting to keep the original integrity but that was going to be hard so the decision was made to respray but I had to think what would Willy G do and what best reflects the bikes intentions so I decided on an Aussie theme and incorporating it with the standard blue and factory pin-striping.

With so much canvas on a Bagger there was plenty of work to be done and whilst the paint was being laid down I had Mild to Wild rebuild the top end, fit a cam and custom V-Twin push rod covers and the Samson Pipes. The original screen was replaced with a bikini screen and once the tins were finished airbrush maestro and good mate Piero laid down the graphics. The original Willy G trademarked signature was spared any changes and remained in its original state, the former owner also had the good sense to have a stone cover made to protect the fairing. We decided to run with the Aussie flag on the tank, a Willy G on the sides of the rear bag and a Willy G skull in the Harley 1 on the lid. The lid is also an integral part of the bike barring a short message from the man, his signature and a thank you from Nancy and Himself on the inside of the lid. It was a short time after buying the bike I was able to introduce the bike to Willy’s daughter Karen on her Australian tour and she also signed it.

I also lowered the rear end 2inchs by changing the rear shocks from the original 13’’ to 11’’ progressive replaced the rubber engine mounts and replaced the tyres for white walls but found the bike still wanting so I decided to get another good mate Garry Howell to pinstripe my Willy and I then went to town with the Willy G skull accessories, heel and toe shift pegs, handle bar grips and caps, fender, the mud flap was actually made in the USA and uses the Australia the movie logo with Willy’s Skull. The lights were replaced and Harley Davidson and Willy G surrounds fitted.

And that is pretty much it, I know the pluralist may have other ideas but believe me when I say I love the note of a V-Twin but I also love my music and found a radio one of the coolest things on these bikes besides the cigarette lighter and cruise control and no there’s no ash tray, but let me tell you this if you are into touring and I’ve done a few miles and though there’s a stigma with the Bagger in Australia times and thoughts are a changing and the bagger popularity is growing and offer great bang for the buck!


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