Famed Senior Vice President and Chief Styling Officer Wille G. has announced his retirement from Harley-Davidson effective April 30, 2012, after 49 years with the company. He is 78 years of age, and one of 13 executives who purchased the brand from AMF in 1981.
According to Harley-Davidson, Wille G., grandson of company founder William A. Davidson, is leaving 19-year company veteran Ray Drea in charge of the styling department.

Drea and Davidson are said to have collaborated on many milestone models. In other words, we wouldn't expect sweeping changes to H-D's overall design philosophy in Willie's absence, for better or for worse.

Willie G. will remain onboard as an ambassador at motorcycle rallies and events, and he'll lead special design projects as Chief Styling Officer Emeritus. Feel free to peruse the press release below.
Show full PR text
HARLEY-DAVIDSON STYLING CHIEF WILLIE G. DAVIDSON TO RETIRE AFTER 49-YEAR LEGENDARY DESIGN CAREER

Willie G. to Remain Involved as Brand Ambassador, and in Special Design Projects as Chief Styling Officer Emeritus

Motorcycle Industry Visionary Built Unrivaled Motorcycle Design Group, Established Company's Pre-Eminence in Styling Leadership

MILWAUKEE, March 16, 2012 – After nearly 50 years as head of styling, Willie G. Davidson is retiring from Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) 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.

Company Background

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company of Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. Harley-Davidson Financial Services provides wholesale and retail financing, insurance, extended service and other protection plans and credit card programs to Harley-Davidson dealers and riders in the U.S., Canada and select European countries. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson's Web site at www.harley-davidson.com.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      Larok
      • 2 Years Ago
      Happy retirement ...
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      H-D do us all a favor and please use this opportunity to inject some young blood into your organization. Please. no one is expecting you guys to come out with some crazy futuristic race bike (hell you had your chance before you killed off Buell), but at least a more modern interpretation of the classic cruiser would be nice. And some modern tech would be nice too. Anything really.
        kcroc10077
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        I don't know who down voted you but I agree 100%. Please, please, please can we have some new designs. HD should own the muscle bike category and should be a force with cafe styled designs.
        Xedicon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        I 100% agree with you as well. I'll take my Road Warrior over a HD any day.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      boston6r
      • 2 Years Ago
      AND HE TOOK THE STIMULIS MONEY TO BUILD A PLANT IN INDIA. THEN LAID OFF 500 HOME WORKERS FOR CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. COME ON PEOPLE, WAKE UP. HARLEY IS A SCAM.
      westex74
      • 2 Years Ago
      Probably a good thing. Most of HD's designs have been flat out lazy the last few years. I have never seen a company have so much success simply by tacking on other parts from the trash bin (cough Blackline cough). Like most of the others on this forum have said... C'mon, Harley....step it up.
      Big Squid
      • 2 Years Ago
      Willie G's greatest regret was that his lifelong dream, to come up with a color darker than black, never came to fruition.
      darkness
      • 2 Years Ago
      Willie D as in Bald headed hoes ?
      Xedicon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Will Harley FINALLY update some of their designs? I know they're popular, and it would make sense to keep some of the classic shapes out there, but seriously... time to move on, at least a little bit. That being said I hope this guy can enjoy his retirement, I'm sure it's well earned.