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Harley Davidson: history, myth, legend

Born in Milwaukee in 1903 by an intuition of William Harley and Arthur Davidson, the Harley Davidson legend grows progressively over time passing through the boom in two wars, the consecration of the postwar period, the celebration of the centenary and the birth of the first Harley Davidson Museum of the world.

Like all great things, even the myth Harley Davidson was born in silence by an idea, a passion, a hope almost impossible. The dream takes the form of a small motorized bicycle, made in the small garage of Arthur Davidson, flanked by his friend William Harley. And this is the first Harley Davidson in history.

We are in 1901, in Milwaukee (United States) a small town that gets the notoriety thanks to the adventures of Ricky Cunningham and Fonzie, legendary stars of American TV series "Happy Days". Two years later (August 28, 1903), and after only three copies sold the company Harley Davidson was founded. The growth is gradual but unabated: in 1907 the motorcycles produced were 150, while in 1917 even 12,904.

The boom of the two conflicts
The first real boom was in 1917, when the United States entered officially in the First World War. The U.S. military requires the company 45 thousand pieces well, which include five models of about 1000 cc.

This increase in production allows the Harley Davidson to become, in the ’20s, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, present in 67 countries. The first real milestone, however, is reached in 1921, when it comes to light the first motorcycle that can reach 160 km / h. Meanwhile, the post-war crisis and, more importantly, the Great Depression, remove many small production houses, leaving only two major players competing activities: Harley Davidson and Indian.

With the advent of World War II, the increase in production is repeating: the motorcycles made for the military this time are 88.000!

Postwar era and the birth of the myth
After the war, Harley Davidson reached two new milestones: in 1954, with the disappearance of the Indian, the only real competitor, Harley Davidson is found to be the only major company in the motorcycle market in circulation and in January 1957 is also made the "Sportster", one of the most successful models in the history of Harley Davidson, characterized by a simple line greatly appreciated by the public. But in 1969 another important event occurs: the Harley Davidson was purchased by AMF (American Machine and Foundry), who decides to drastically reduce its workforce, with devastating effects on product quality, which inevitably leads to a decline in sales and even at the risk of bankruptcy. A very difficult situation, only partly alleviated by the conquest of the world titles at the World Championship Speed in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

Then, in 1981, another turning point: AMF sells Harley Davidson to a group of 13 investors led by Vaughn Beals and Willie G. Davidson. To continue the pace, the company of Milwaukee takes a bit: Harley Davidson back to being a market leader in large displacement motorcycles only with the introduction of the "Softail Custom" in 1984, but the story becomes Legend officially in 1990 with the launch of the new model "Fat Boy", which perfectly embodies the new retro style chosen by the new management to revitalize the brand, which relies entirely on the possibility for customers to customize their motorcycles.

Meanwhile, the legend comes increasingly become part of everyday life for millions of fans around the world, by creating a series of jewelry and accessories designed entirely by Harley Davidson like watches (by Bulova), rings in silver or steel, the bracelet in silver or steel pins, pendants, neck, zippo lighters, but also patches for jackets, key rings, leather bags, door lock, rims, motorcycle covers, stickers, and more.

One hundred of these years
In 2003, Harley Davidson, a brand now transformed into a real myth, is celebrating its hundredth birthday, celebrated in style in Milwaukee with the largest gathering in the history of the company and, very probably, in the history of motorcycling ever. To commemorate the event, throughout the 2003 models are marketed in Edition "Century," with special colors and tanks, accompanied by a new set of clothes.

But there’s more. At Milwaukee in July 12 2008 is created the first Harley Davidson Museum in the world, offering visitors the chance to live, between past and present, that atmosphere of freedom, passion and pride "on the road" that represent the soul of the company. Divided into three buildings on a total area of 12 thousand square meters placed in a green area of 81mila square meters, the museum contains models of motorcycles, photographs, videos, clothing, rare documents, in addition to the collection of thousands of plaques "Living the Legend" personalized with messages from fans around the world.

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