Original Colors Used on Harley-Davidsons in the 1950sby Rob Wagner
Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the 1950s featured a wide range of colors, including two-tone schemes for its flathead, panhead and three-wheel Servi-Car models. Civilian W and WL series flatheads numbered about four with at least four Servi-Car versions and a handful of U.S. and Canadian Army bikes. Production for variants of the panhead EL series ran until 1952, with FL variants produced throughout the decade. Big Twin engines powered the panheads and flatheads.
1950 and 1951
Harley-Davidson offered its motorcycles in 1950 in Metallic Green, white, Flight Red, Azure Blue, Riviera Blue, Ruby Red, Metallic Blue, Persian Red and Rio Blue. The motorcycle maker offered Flight Red through most of the 1940s and revived Azure Blue from the 1948 model year for 1950. Metallic Green, Flight Red, Azure Blue and white were available as options. In 1951, a new tank badge appeared with “Harley-Davidson” written under the logo.
1952 and 1953
The motorcycle maker added for 1952 Marine and Metallic Blue, Tropical Green and Bronco Bronze Metallic to the lineup that already included Persian Red and Rio Blue. In 1953, the bikes received Cavalier Brown, Glamour Green, Forest Green, Glacier Blue and Pepper Red. White, Cavalier Brown and Glamour Green cost extra. Meter maid Servi-Car models received Cadillac Gray fuel tanks and Azure Blue fenders.
1954 and 1955
In 1954, Harley-Davidson added Daytona Ivory and Anniversary Yellow to 1953 colors Forest Green, Glacier Blue and Pepper Red. The 1954 model year marked Harley’s golden anniversary, which was marked with a brass medallion on the front fenders. For 1955, the oval-shaped taillamp shared the same color as the rear fender. Model year 1955 colors featured Pepper Red, Atomic Blue, Aztec Brown, Anniversary Yellow, Police White and Silver and Hollywood Green.
1956 and 1957
Two-tone paint schemes for 1956 featured Pepper Red with white fuel tank panels and red fenders; standard black with Champion Yellow fuel tank and black fenders; Atomic Blue frame with blue fenders and a Champion Yellow fuel tank panels; and Police Silver and White or Flamboyant Metallic Green with white fuel tank panels. Frame color schemes included Metallic Midnight Blue and Birch White. In 1957, bikes received red and silver tank emblems with the “Harley-Davidson” script. Two-tone combinations in 1957 were Pepper Red frame and fenders with black fuel tank panels; Skyline Blue frame and fenders and Birch White fuel tank panels; Birch White frame and fenders with a black fuel tank; Police Silver; and Metallic Midnight Blue frame and fenders and a Birch White tank.
1958 and 1959
Two-tone paint combinations became standard on all 1958 and later Harley-Davidsons. Colors for fuel tanks were Calypso Red and Birch White; Skyline Blue and Birch White; and Sabre Gray Metallic and Birch White. Solid fuel tank colors were Police Silver and Police Birch White. Body colors in 1958 were Sabre Grey Metallic and Calypso Red. In 1959, Harley-Davidsons had black footboards. For 1959, frame colors were Calypso Red, Hi-Fi Red and Hi-Fi Turquoise.
Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.