Harley-Davidson NOVA

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A new engine program, launched in 1976, which aimed at producing a complete range of all-new water-cooled engines to power a new generation of modern Harleys. The plan was for a modular system in which a range of engines (including a 30ci/500ce twin, 61ci/1000cc four and 92ci/1500cc six) would all share vital components to cut costs and valves, pistons and gears would be common to all. Parent company AMF seemed willing to underwrite the cost (it was to put $10 million into NOVA), and a contract was awarded to Porsche to develop the range as Harley-Davidson's own engineering department had enough to do, keeping the existing V-twin up with emissions legislation and developing the upcoming Evolution V-twin. Over the next few years, development continued, and when the Evolution was unveiled in 1983, a few selected dealers were shown a running prototype of the V4 NOVA. If everything had gone to plan, we might have seen water-cooled V4 and V6 Harley¬-Davidsons on the market by 1985-86. Unfortunately, AMF's attitude to Harley-Davidson's long-term future changed as the 1970s drew to a close, particularly after new chief executive Tom York came on board. A team of consultants recommended that NOVA get the final go-ahead, at a cost of $60-S80 million. York refused, and instead began to look for ways of getting rid of Harley-Davidson altogether. NOVA was effectively dead from that point on. Ironically, the air-cooled pushrod Evolution proved such a success that the need for NOVA receded into the background anyway.