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Thread: 1948 and 1949 model changes

  1. #1

    1948 and 1949 model changes

    This has been certainly discussed before but I need to ask anyway: what is the true MoCo story behind the introduction of the new OHV engine and new hydraulic fork in two consecutive years?

    Clever marketing spreading the innovation in two years slot to keep sales high?

    Or

    Problems in the timing plan of the fork that could not keep the pace and SOP of the engine?

    I am also puzzled by the relatively high sales in 1948 (>12000 isn‘t?) when I guess all customers knew that a brand new (and much delayed) hydraulic front end was to be introduced few months later. How they achieved it? Special stock-killer prices? Or where springers were still so cool for the average customer?
    1918 "Motorcyke" HD
    1947 F w/1948 LE HD
    1951 FL HD
    1970 FLH HD

  2. #2
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    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    I believe you are spinning your wheels trying to make it fit some plan. Sales were extremely high for all years after the war ended, and H- D was selling everything they could build. If your theory held water then the sales of '47s should have been in the toilet, however they were not but instead were at an all time high. Consumers didn't know ahead of time what was coming, not like today. And by '51 the bubble burst, the Korean war, worldwide recession after the buying frenzy of the late '40s, etc. H-D struggled to survive and many brands worldwide did not. You cannot think of consumers and marketing of the '40s in modern terms.
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  3. #3

    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    The million-plus GI's that discharged after September, 1945 bought every bike Harley could build. Like many other examples, the MoFoMoCo let major changes occur gradually. Two years' worth of new innovations instead of blowing all the surprises at once. Like Robbie said, the times were different. Bikes were consumer goods, expected to last only two or three years and they bought another one. Some dealers scrapped all the used bikes they traded for, to help increase demand for new ones.
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  4. #4

    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubone View Post
    I believe you are spinning your wheels trying to make it fit some plan. Sales were extremely high for all years after the war ended, and H- D was selling everything they could build. If your theory held water then the sales of '47s should have been in the toilet, however they were not but instead were at an all time high. Consumers didn't know ahead of time what was coming, not like today. And by '51 the bubble burst, the Korean war, worldwide recession after the buying frenzy of the late '40s, etc. H-D struggled to survive and many brands worldwide did not. You cannot think of consumers and marketing of the '40s in modern terms.
    A valid point, Robbie. A demand far above the offer - I understand.

    The other question remains however unanswered: the hydra front end in 1949: delayed to the pan engine or in purpose scheduled one year later?
    1918 "Motorcyke" HD
    1947 F w/1948 LE HD
    1951 FL HD
    1970 FLH HD

  5. #5

    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    The million-plus GI's that discharged after September, 1945 bought every bike Harley could build. Like many other examples, the MoFoMoCo let major changes occur gradually. Two years' worth of new innovations instead of blowing all the surprises at once. Like Robbie said, the times were different. Bikes were consumer goods, expected to last only two or three years and they bought another one. Some dealers scrapped all the used bikes they traded for, to help increase demand for new ones.

    Got it, Sarge. You go for the theory of introducing changes step by step as a marketing strategy. Works if there was no information leaks... Thx!
    1918 "Motorcyke" HD
    1947 F w/1948 LE HD
    1951 FL HD
    1970 FLH HD

  6. #6
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    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    Works if there was no information leaks...
    You are still trying to equate things to modern times. It would have taken a year for a leak to reach the mainstream rider if it ever did reach them. They saw new innovations when the dealer got his new models, not before.
    Friends help friends move,
    Real friends help friends move bodies!

  7. #7

    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    An old friend bought a new EL Pan in the spring of 48.....17 yrs old junior in HS.He said he could have waited for the new glide,so the word was out by then.He wanted a bike that day to go riding.There have been ongoing changes since the first Harley.
    Last edited by duffeycycles; 09-30-2019 at 04:28 PM.

  8. Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    I doubt there was any "master plan" to the running changes. Aluminum engine parts was a natural improvement and so was the hydra-glide. The sheet metal change occurred across the industry -auto, agriculture and motorcycle. They had improved the dies and procedures to the point that they now could draw punch full fenders.

  9. #9

    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    If you look at the neck of a 1948 you will see the forging is all set up for the Hydra-Glide Steering Damper Pin.
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  10. #10
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    Re: 1948 and 1949 model changes

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Haynes View Post
    If you look at the neck of a 1948 you will see the forging is all set up for the Hydra-Glide Steering Damper Pin.
    i have heard that the Company started developing the Hydra -Glide front end several years before it's introduction. If so then by late 47, early 48 they probably saw the need for that casting for the upcoming damper pin. Just a thought...
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