The First Harley-Davidson Factory Custom

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In recent times, the term “factory custom” has been used to describe various new models coming out of Milwaukee.  This of course is just marketing hype, but in 1933 Harley built a true factory custom which was the first machine produced by the Motor Company that did not bear the name “Harley-Davidson” on the gas tanks.  Instead, it had the name “Woolery Bullet” painted on the tanks at the request of the customer.  I was hoping that there may have been some connection between this motorcycle and the famous game show host Chuck Woolery, but alas that does not seem to be the case!

The Woolery Bullet didn’t just sport a custom paint job, it also was built with an interesting combination of parts.  The power plant was 45″ DL engine which is highly unusual since that engine had been discontinued in 1931.  The frame was made for the 1933 model year, but it was for a 21″ Single B-model.  Together they made for a reasonably fast and lightweight machine.  Harley-Davidson recorded a speed of 88 mph before sending it down to Guy Webb’s Harley-Davidson Dealership in Minneapolis, MN.  It’s interesting to note that the larger displacement VLE set a production motorcycle speed record of 104 mph that same year.

Today you can see the Woolery Bullet at the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC.  If your lucky, you may even get to hear it run as most of the Museum’s collection is run on a regular basis.

Special thanks to Matt Walksler for providing the color photo and information on this interesting piece of Harley history.

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