Harley’s Japanese Delivery Vehicle
In 1934, it looked liked Harley’s gamble in the Far East was about to pay off. The Japanese Shinagawa factory was just one year away from becoming the first overseas factory to produce an 100% foreign made Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The U.S. was also starting to pull it’s way out of the Great Depression and with the prospect of increased sales in the U.S. and Japan, Harley was probably starting to feel a little relief. Still, the Motor Company was looking for ways to expand into other markets which probably explains how this interesting three wheeled machine came to be.
Since I don’t read Japanese, I can only speculate about the details listed above, but based on what was being produced by HD in 1934, this trike was powered by a 45″ RL motor mated to a hand-shifted three speed transmission. The actual origins of the powertrain and the rest of the parts are up for debate.
Although the Shinagawa factory would not produce complete motorcycles until 1935, they were already producing a variety of parts, so it is possible that these machines were constructed with either U.S. made Harley parts or Japanese made Harley parts.
It’s interesting to note that it could not have been built with a combination of the two as the Japanese parts were not exact replicas of the original U.S. parts and the two versions didn’t quite fit together. The rear section and side beams came from another Japanese company, which is still in business today, Daihatsu.
Whatever the case was, the machine certainly seems to have be authorized by Harley-Davidson. This comes as a bit of a surprise since it is very similar to the Servi-car which had gone into production two years earlier in 1932.
One thing that is clear about this machine is that they were used throughout Japan and other parts of the Asia for many years. During WWII, U.S. soldiers were photographed riding around on these trikes both on the mainland and some of the surrounding islands. The photo below shows a group of Marines on Iwo Jima enjoying their captured trike.
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