William H. Davidson, son of co-founder, William A. Davidson, grew up immersed in Harley-Davidson culture. He was an avid motorcyclist and won the 1930 Jack Pine Endurance Run with the highest score ever posted. He began working for the company in 1928 and played an influential part in the continuing growth of the company. He eventually replaced his uncle, Walter, as president in 1942 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1973.
As president, he led the company through World War II, during which time it earned the prestigious Army-Navy “E” Award for exceptional wartime production. He also saw the development of the Model K, the FX Super Glide, and Harley-Davidson’s entrance into the snowmobile and golf car markets. He oversaw the company’s expansion with the acquisition of the Capitol Drive and Tomahawk plants and its merger with AMF in 1969.After his retirement, his sons, John and Willie G. continued to work as officers in the company and he maintained a deep interest in the progress of the company until his death in 1992.