Willie G. Davidson
Brand Ambassador and the former Senior Vice President & Chief Styling Officer of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Willie G Davidson is considered a motorcycle design pioneer. His breakthrough designs and business savvy helped transform Harley into one of the country’s most endearing and iconic brands.
The son of former Harley-Davidson president William H. Davidson and the grandson of Harley-Davidson co-founder William A. Davidson, Willie G. grew up around Harley-Davidson motorcycles. But despite his family lineage, he did not aspire to create custom bike designs until he attended the Art Center College of Design in California. After completing his artistic education, he found design work at the Ford Motor Company and several other automobile retailers until he was offered a job at Harley-Davidson in 1963. His designs were initially met with criticism from company executives who found them radical and impractical. Nonetheless, he received his break as a designer when Harley-Davidson approved his design for the FX Super Glide, the company’s first custom factory production. The decision proved to be fortuitous, and after the massive success of the FX Super Glide, Davidson was promoted to Vice President of Design in 1969.
Davidson’s ideas continued to stimulate growth for Harley-Davidson. In the 1980s, Davidson worked tirelessly with several other executives to buy Harley-Davidson back from the failing conglomerate company, AMF. Since then, Davidson’s vision has led to consistent success for the company; his design team has produced many noteworthy models including the Low Rider, the Heritage Softail Classic, the Fat Boy, the V-Rod, and the Street Glide.
Although retired, he still remains involved as brand ambassador, and in Special Design Projects as Chief Styling Officer Emeritus.
The Wisconsin Advertising Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held every year at the United Adworkers Milwaukee 99 Awards Show. For details and to purchase tickets to the show on October 12, 2017, please visit Adworkers.com.