A few weeks ago we went to Miami, Florida, to attend Harley-Davidson’s traditional Press Experience, which this year has been dubbed “The Art Of Custom” in order to underline the strong connection between the Milwaukee-based manufacturer and the custom world, something that has always been at the core of the ‘magic’ surronding this legendary brand. There can be no denial in fact that the custom culture as we know it today basically took off in the US in the 50s and 60s thanks to the famous H-D Twins of that era, and from there it spread all over the world. However, this is something we will delve into later on. Base of operations for the whole event is a nice hotel in Miami Beach, where a demo-fleet made of almost every model of the current H-D range silently awaits.
On the first day of the event, the Harley-Davidson staff greeted us in a nice conference room where we were given a short overview of the glorious H-D history, from the humble beginning in a barn in Milwaukee in 1903 till the grandeur of today, proven by the fact that the famous bar-and-shield logo is the only motorcycle-related brand that made it in the highly rated ‘Top 100 Best Global Brands’ chart, published at the beginning of the year by Interbrand, one of the world’s leading brand consultancy. Then we got introduced to the two most important additions to H-D’s 2012 line-up: the wicked Softail Slim, powered by the brand new 1690 cc (103 cubic inches) air cooled twin that is bound to become H-D main engine for the forthcoming years, and the slightly quieter Sportster Seventy-Two (pictured above), equipped with a 1200 cc V-Twin engine with electronic injection.
After a quick briefing concerning the schedule of the event, it is finally time to jump on the bikes and move to what will be the first stop of our ‘Press Experience’, Wynwood Walls, an outdoor mural permanent exhibit within the well-known Wynwood Art District of Miami. The demo-fleet that Harley-Davidson provided for this event was nothing short of ‘impressive’: the aforementioned new models as well as several variants of Sportster, Dyna, Softail, Touring, V-Rod etc etc. Basically all models from the current H-D line up were there, and seeing this whole lot lined up under the sun, with all the chrome bits shining, really was a pretty evocative view. Read the rest of the article and see all the pictures after the jump.
Through an official press release, Harley-Davidson confirms that starting April 30 Willie G. Davidson will leave his job of 49 years as Chief Styling Officer for the Milwaukee-based manufacturer to become an ‘ambassador’ for the brand. Given the history and cult-status of the character, this somewhat surprising news is bound to become a milestone in the history of the legendary American maker.
Grandson to William A. Davidson (one of the founder of the company) and son to William H. Davidson (who had been the second ever H-D president), Willie G. has always been recognized as one of the key figures in the history of the ‘bar-and-shield’ brand: involved in the styling of all these iconic bikes since 1963, in 1981 he basically saved the brand from bankruptcy when - along with 13 other executives - he bought it back from the AMF Group, then leading it to the worldwide success that H-D still enjoys today.
“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 - commented the 78 years old Willie G. - 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.”