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Willie G. Davidson Retiring From Harley-Davidson April 30, 2012

Fri, 16 Mar 2012

At the end of April 2012, Willie G., as he’s commonly known, grandson of Harley-Davidson co-founder, William A. Davidson, will end his career at Harley-Davidson.  Davidson’s time as Chief Styling Officer at H-D spanned nearly 50 years.

Harley-Davidson today announced that Willie G. Davidson, Senior Vice President and Chief Styling Officer at Harley, is set to retire April 30, marking the end of a 49-year career at the company that bears his namesake. According to a release from Harley, Willie G., as he’s popularly known, will stay on as an ambassador for the Harley-Davidson brand, and as Chief Styling Officer Emeritus for special design projects.

“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 in a release. “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.”

Grandson of one of the company’s founders, William A. Davidson, and son of William H. Davidson, its second president, Willie G., 78, joined the company as its first head of styling in 1963. With responsibility for the look of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles, models that emerged from Willie G’s styling studio team include the Super Glide in 1971, as well as the 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.

“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.”

The styling department is now 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 Harley models.

Of Willie G., Keith Wandell, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, said, “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.”

Despite retiring from whatever degree of day-to-day involvement Willie G. had at the company, it’s clear his influence will remain; and any number of forthcoming Harley models may carry his styling fingerprint.

By Pete Brissette

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