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Harley-Davidson Styling Chief Willie G. Davidson to Retire

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Willie G. Davidson will retire as head of styling at Harley-Davidson in April 2012.

Press Release
March 16, 2012
Filed under Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Harley Motorcycles, Latest News

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After nearly 50 years as head of styling, Willie G. Davidson is retiring from Harley-Davidson on April 30, 2012.

Willie G., Senior Vice President and Chief Styling Officer, is widely recognized as a legend in the world of motorcycling and motorcycle design. He will continue his involvement with the company as an ambassador at motorcycle rallies and events, and through special design projects as Chief Styling Officer Emeritus.

“Throughout my life, I have been truly fortunate to have the opportunity to marry my passion for design with my love for this amazing brand that runs so deeply in my veins,” Willie G. said. “What’s most rewarding has been to see the impact our motorcycles have on the lives of our customers. Everything we do in styling is based on the notion that form follows function, but both report to emotion.”

Over the course of his career, Willie G., 78, built a design team at Harley-Davidson that established the company’s unrivaled leadership in custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles. Today, the styling department is led by 19-year company veteran Ray Drea, Vice President and Director of Styling, who has worked collaboratively with Willie G. in the development of numerous milestone vehicles.

“It has been my privilege to work alongside many incredibly talented people at this company and I have great confidence the future of Harley-Davidson’s design leadership will continue to grow in its pre-eminence,” Willie G. said. “I look forward to spending time with riders at rallies and to my involvement in special design projects.”

“Few individuals have the kind of impact on an organization, a brand and a lifestyle that Willie G. has had,” said Keith Wandell, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. “Everyone with a love for motorcycles owes a great deal to his vision and talent, and all of us have been blessed by his presence. His legacy will continue to grow, thanks to the talent he has nurtured in the Harley-Davidson styling studio.”

Willie G. has long served as ambassador of Harley-Davidson at rallies around the world — meeting riders, talking to customers, lending his famous signature to jackets, and setting an example of being close to the customer that has become one of the hallmarks of the company.

Grandson of one of the company’s founders, William A. Davidson, and son of William H. Davidson, its second president, Willie G. joined the company as its first head of styling in 1963. With responsibility for the look of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles, landmark motorcycles to emerge from Willie G’s styling studio team include the Super Glide, which established the factory custom category in 1971, Low Rider, Heritage Softail Classic, Fat Boy, V-Rod and Street Glide. He is one of 13 Harley-Davidson executives who purchased the company from AMF, Inc. in 1981.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Styling Chief Willie G. Davidson to Retire”

  1. Adrian on March 18th, 2012 7:37 am

    Hard work and well deserved!!!!

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  2. Adrian on March 18th, 2012 7:39 am

    Its great to hear some of the industry people have left a legacy and will lead the path to new guys.
    Congrats for the hard work and enjoy the retirement!

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  3. gerard boudreau on March 19th, 2012 8:11 am

    I have to say that my experience in the saddle of a dyna wide glide since 1994 has been a blast . this bike never let me down and I drove it like I stole it . I,m 58 now and after 17 years and 130 klks I have to say that my harley davidson motorcycle has given me a feeling of being alive . 2 trips across canada and several thru U.S. AND LOCONIA being a regular one since 1994 . Willie was a down to earth guy and took some time to snap a picture with us in our first trip to Laconia . I am just turning in my old blue for a Road King and hope to ride it until i can.t put my leg over it . I wouldn,t change my experieces on the best bike in the market for anything . Best of luck to You Willie ( One glorious day to the next ) . biker for life . Keep your face in the wind . Bat

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  4. Johnnie on April 2nd, 2012 12:15 pm

    I saw Willie and Nancy at many rallys since I goined HOG in 1988 and they were down to earth always friendly and talking to fellow riders and taking the time to pose with riders for pictures. I hope they will still attend rallys and continue to enjoy motorcyling during their retirement. They deserve it and will be an Icon for years to come among Harley Davidsion Owners. Congratulation for a job well done Willie!

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  5. Ron "Primo" Benner on April 2nd, 2012 8:03 pm

    Met Willie G. at the Viet Nam POW flag ceremony at the York plant some years ago. Real good people!! Love my 85th Anniversary 1988 Springer Softail. Have a great retirement. Maybe see you on the road!!

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  6. John Lassiter on April 2nd, 2012 9:40 pm

    I’m not a HD guy, but Willie G. has been not only a great representative for Harley Davidson, but for motorcycling over all. A great guy, well spoken, respected and a fantastic designer. He’s done some exciting and timeless work for HD.
    Enjoy your retirement for a LONG time, well earned, well deserved.

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  7. JOE KNOX on May 25th, 2012 8:33 pm

    I TRULY LIKED WILLIE G AND HIS WIFE I SAW THEM IN KNOXVILLE TN. AT THE HOG RALLY A FEW YRS BACK AND WAS SUPPRISED AT JUST HOW NICE THEY WERE AND I COULDNT BELIEVE HE WAS AS OLD AS HE IS HARLEY DAVIDSON MUST HAVE MADE HIM VERY HAPPY ALL HIS YRS WITH THE COMPANY BECAUSE HE SMILED CONSTSANTLY AND ALWAYS HAD TIME FOR A PIC OR AUTOGRAPH SO MY HATS OFF TO YOU WILLIE BECAUSE YOUR HARLEY DAVIDSON WIDEGLIDES HAVE ALSO MADE ME SMILE CONSTANTLY AND MADE ME VERY HAPPY ALSO YOUR FRIEND FOREV ER FROM TENN. JOE KNOX

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