Original Survivor: 1950 Harley-Davidson WL 45

If considered purely on a dollar-per-pound basis, classic older Harley-Davidson motorcycles are one of the most valuable vehicles that you can buy today. Original examples can fetch some pretty extraordinary prices, and these values continue to grow with each passing year. This 1950 Harley WL 45 is a survivor that has been brought to sound mechanical health using nothing but genuine parts. It isn’t perfect, but it is a motorcycle that is dripping with the sort of character that makes these machines so attractive. The owner has decided to part with this survivor, so he has listed it for sale here on eBay. It is located in South Bound Brook, New Jersey, and while spirited bidding has pushed the price to $17,600, this remains short of the reserve.

One of the critical requirements for any vintage Harley when considering its potential value is its originality. This machine ticks that box, and while the paint is showing its age a bit, it still looks pretty impressive for a vehicle with more than six decades under its belt. The fenders and tank are in excellent order, with no noticeable dings or dents. For me, the standouts are the chrome and the seat. The former is generally in excellent condition and offers a striking contrast to the Blue paint. The seat itself is an OEM solo unit, and it holds the promise of many miles of comfortable motoring for this classic’s next lucky owner. The owner has fitted a set of 1949 Panhead handlebars, but it seems that beyond those, everything is as it was when this machine rolled out of the factory.

The single defining characteristic of any Harley is its motor. These 45° V-Twins are legendary engines, and they produce an exhaust note unlike any other machine on the planet. This WL features the 45ci flathead engine that is hooked to a 3-speed transmission. The flathead is not as powerful as the OHV version of the Twin, but it still possesses bags of torque that make it an incredibly flexible powerplant. If you aren’t entirely convinced, consider how most modern motorcycles would cope with a 3-speed transmission. The nature of these leaves significant gaps between the ratios, and the majority of today’s “peaky” engines would find themselves bogged down by this. The owner States that this flathead is in excellent order. He has gone through everything, fitting new wires and rebuilding the Linkert carburetor along the way. The brakes have been gone through, as has the transmission. All it needs now is a new owner to throw their leg over this beauty and hit the open road.

A Harley-Davidson is more than a motorcycle. It offers its owner an entire lifestyle, with Harley owners forming one big family that will always support one another when the going gets tough. Vintage Harleys also tend to make a sound financial investment because good examples continue to increase in value with each passing year. If that is the sort of carefree classic ownership experience you seek, maybe the time has come to park this beautiful survivor in your garage.


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  1. Kenn

    I had a 1945 Harley 45 back in 1957. A joy to ride. A joy to listen to. Wish I had had the foresight to keep it!

    Like 1
  2. Johnny C.

    My ’52 was as reliable and tough as an anvil. Nothing like these ol’ H.D.s!

    Like 1
  3. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Looks like the seller has quite the “toy box” there in NJ. Flipping must me good!

    Like 4
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Yes, and I bet the guy inside is not holding a can of pop.

      Like 3
  4. Terrry

    If this bike sells for $40-50K I wouldn’t be surprised and it would still be a bargain.

    Like 2
  5. Gary

    Never good bikes compared to the worthy competition. Give me a reliable smooth running bike any day over this.

    Like 5
  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    A good ol’ 45. I sure miss the one I had. They’ve got a personality all their own. Definitely not a powerhouse but they had enough to do what needed to be done. A lot of guys slam Harleys because they’re so primitive but my philosophy is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I remember a Honda guy telling me that Harley’s were a poor example and you’d never see a Japanese company copy one. I simply told him about the Rikou…

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