Classic Harley OHV Motorcycle Production 1936-1947 Knucklehead Era

Thanks to Panhead Jim for allowing us to share parts of this excellent post on Harley Knucklehead production data from his blog

Note:  These production numbers are based on fiscal rather than calendar year model production numbers.  To date, Harley-Davidson has not released an official listing of production numbers by model year. 

For the 1936 model year, Harley-Davidson released a completely redesigned motorcycle which was powered by an all new 61 ci OHV (Over Head Valve) engine.  This engine was nicknamed the “Knucklehead” due to the shape of the rocker covers, which some thought resembled the knuckles of a clinched fist.  It had many advancements over the earlier side valve engines, but most importantly it was the first Harley engine to use a recirculating oil system.  Harley’s engineers took advantage of this consistent source of pressurized oil and built an engine with higher compression, larger valves and a shorter stroke.  The result was an OHV engine that produced 40 bhp at 4,800 rpm.  Compare that to the larger 80 ci side-valve engine of the same era that only produced 39 bhp. The Knucklehead Era lasted from 1936 through 1947 models.

1936  Harley OHV Production Figures

E – 152
EL – 1,516
 ES – 26
EM – ?

1937  Harley OHV Production Figures

 E – 126
 EL – 1,829
 ES – 70

1938 Harley OHV Production Figures

EL – 2,289
ES – 189

1939  Harley OHV Production Figures

 EL – 2.695
ES – 214

1940  Harley OHV Production Figures

   EL – 3,893
ES – 176

1941  Harley OHV Production Figures

   EL – 2,280
 ES – 261
   FL – 2,452
 FS – 156

1942  Harley OHV Production Figures

  EL – 620
 ELA – 8
  ELC – 44
  ES – 164
  FL – 799
  FS – 107

1943  Harley OHV Production Figures

No civilian models produced

1944  Harley OHV Production Figures

  EL – 116
  ES – 105
  FL – 172
FS – 67

1945  Harley OHV Production Figures

  EL – 398
  ES – 282
  FL – 619
FS 131

1946  Harley OHV Production Figures

    EL – 2,098
 ES – 244
   FL – 3,986
 FS – 418

1947  Harley OHV Production Figures

    EL – 4,117
 ES – 237
   FL – 6,893
 FS – 401
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7 Responses to Classic Harley OHV Motorcycle Production 1936-1947 Knucklehead Era

  1. Randy says:

    I can I find out info 47 knuck that was shipped over sea’s with US arm forces?

  2. Amir Glinik says:

    This is Amir Glinik the one that created those 3d rendered images,
    I would like those pictures to be removed, those are copyrighted images
    created under the Fine-Art policy and regulations provided by H-D Milwaukee,
    in the future they will be offered as prints for collector,
    please read my copyrights / terms of use doc on my website

  3. jon says:

    so if a 1938 knuck has a vin in the mid 3000s range, would that mean most likely a restamp? since production didn’t exceed 2500?

  4. Phillip Hall says:

    I have a 38 knuck with vin 38EL27** It is replacement case from Harley as the sides blew out of the knuck cases a lot. I THINK but hope to confirm HD stamped replacement cases with after last bike production number. They Built approx 2500 38 s ,….. replaced approx 200 motors before getting to my 2700 number? Then about 500 motors/cases to get to the 3000 s.

    Need an authority on Knuck vins to chime in ?