Harley-Davidson Art Deco Styling

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For their first 30 years, Harley-Davidsons were hardly a byword in style. They were designed to be solid, reliable machines, and the standard color (after the original grey) was olive green. But the 1930s heralded a new era of stylish design: more to the point, arch-rival Indian had been taken over by the du Pont chemical company. and was now offering a new range of bright colors. Rivalry between the two was so intense that Harley-Davidson had no choice but to respond, and from 1933 the side-valve Harleys came in a range of bold colors and eye-catching graphics in the art deco style. This was a new era of speed and elegance, and Milwaukee did its best to keep up.


Harley-Davidson first offered a wider range of colors in 1933, in direct response to Indian's initiative a year or two earlier. Traditionally, Harleys cane in drab grey or green, but for 1933 the twins could be had in silver and turquoise with black and gold pinstriping; black and mandarin red with gold striping; sunshine blue and white with gold striping; and police blue and white with gold striping. There was no extra charge for any of these. It was also the year of the handsome art deco bird motif on the tank. In fact, Harleys had never looked better.