When Harley-Davidson introduced the W series in 1936, America was still recovering from the Great Depression. Improving on the 45 cubic inch (740cc) flathead v-twin engine found in the preceding D series and R series, the Motor Company’s W range saw the highest production volume up to that point due to WLA and WLC military variants for World War 2. Aside from contributing to the war effort, the W series also introduced an iconic flat track racer with the WR.
While you can still catch some WRs in vintage races today—and I have—the lesser-known WRTT road-racing version was produced in much lower numbers. It’s that exclusivity that makes the model so special and this masterfully restored WRTT is up for auction on Bonhams right now.
Standing for tourist trophy, the WRTT featured a special race cam like all WR models. Experienced tuners could turn these hogs into reliable 100+ mph race machines and the minimalist frame, narrow sport clutch, and skinny primary cover helped to lighten the rig.
Unlike the WR, a set of 19-inch wheels and road racing tires made the WRTT more suitable for the tarmac. The tourist trophy edition also benefited from a close-ratio 3-speed gearbox and a front brake that wasn’t equipped on the WR due to flat track regulations.
Gallery: 1951 Harley-Davidson WRTT
This particular WRTT touts a rare MR3 Linkert race carburetor and a longer factory exhaust. The period-correct Jack Tracey windshield, single saddle, and chin pad also ensures that the new owner can still race the WRTT, but we doubt you would want to take the vintage Harley too far from your garage.
Sporting a number 82 race plate, this WRTT was ridden by several significant racers of the era including Joseph Holoubek and Harland Zobel. Harley WR expert Leo Hulnick restored this unit to a high standard and the asking price currently sits at $60,000-$70,000.
If you’re able to scrape together the funds in time for the January 23, 2020 auction date, this 1951 WRTT—and a piece of Harley-Davidson history—could be yours.