Bike of the Month
1940 H-D WLD
by Ray Horstmeyer
This story is part bike story, part love story.
In 1983, dressed in my best 50’s attire and driving my 1940 Harley-Davidson 3 wheeler, off to the oldies dance I go. I’m there for a while and I see this gal by the dance floor, so I asked her if she would like to dance. Four days later I proposed to her, eleven days after that, Pam and I were married.
Since I hadn’t learned Pam’s middle name yet, and we were in the middle of our whirlwind romance, I thought there were a few things to get out of the way. On our way to the court house, I asked Pam what her middle name was and what color would you like your Harley to be. She answered, “Well first of all, Ann is my middle name, and second, I don’t have a Harley. I said, “I did not ask that, I just want to know what color you would like.” “ How about Porsche red”, she stated? I said, “Ok, let’s get married”.
In our third week together, I was off in search of parts that I did not have in stock as my personal stash was diminishing after building six or seven 45’s fro friends and family. I had a 1938 custom 45 and a 1940 custom 45 three wheeler that I have owned since I was 19 and was excited to be adding one more 45 to the family.
Into the way back machine I went. I remembered Armando Magri at Sacramento Harley-Davidson had a 1940 WLD 45 motor sitting on a shelf that I discovered in 1976. I called Merle, the service manager at Sacrament H-D, and asked if he still had the motor and if the price he quoted me in 76, $175, was still good. He answered, “Yeah, Ray, only for you, seven years later.” Then I called my buddy, Tim, in Roseville at his bike shop and asked if he had a 45 frame. He said, “Yes, and it’s a cherry one, but I gotta get a hundred bucks for it.” I said, “Sold”!
So off to Sac we go to pick up the frame and motor. Now the bike is coming together in my head. I had a complete springer front end and wheel at home, a set of WR tanks, and all the miscellaneous parts, but I was missing a rear wheel assembly. Again, I jumped into the way back machine and remembered my friend Allen has a Hallcraft rear disc assembly with a wheel. After some horse trading, the wheel was mine.
With Porsche red WR tanks and a red frame, the metamorphosis of a pile of parts on the floor was starting to take place into something that resembled a motorcycle. The deadline for assembly for the Reno Autorama was looming, so we burned the midnight oil and rolled the beautiful 45, fresh with Larry Walker paint job, onto the show room floor in March 1984. The 1940 custom 45 won best of class.
A few months later we worked out all the bugs, and August 1984 we were packed down like gypsies and headed for the California coast for a week on the road.
Fast forward 35 years, Pammie still rides her custom 45 and has taken best bike in many shows and our love story continues.
Dedicated to Pammie!
Ray "Fonzi" and Pam with the 45's in the early years
Pam's 45 as it is currently