The Nova project

Last is­sue we fea­tured the Dee­ley Mu­seum in Van­cou­ver, Canada. One of the stand­out ex­hibits is this Har­ley-David­son V4 1000.

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT -

Dur­ing the 1970s, when Har­ley-David­son was owned by AMF, a top-se­cret project code named Nova was un­der way. The idea was for a se­ries of mod­u­lar en­gines built around ei­ther 400cc or 500cc in­cre­ments; a 400cc or 500cc V-twin, an 800cc or 1000cc V-4, and even a V-6 of 1200cc or 1500cc. The en­gines would be liq­uid-cooled DOHC with a com­mon bore and stroke across the range. De­sign of the en­gines was en­trusted to Porsche and the ini­tial de­signs used 2-valve heads, al­though the heads were de­signed to be adapted to 4-valve at a later stage. Only a hand­ful of pro­to­types were built, and one of these was do­nated to Dee­ley af­ter the project was aban­doned in 1983 in or­der to di­vert pre­cious cash re­sources to the de­vel­op­ment of the Evo­lu­tion V-twin. By this stage, Har­ley was back in pri­vate hands and the AMF chap­ter a thing of the past. At least one of the pro­to­types bikes com­pleted was in tour­ing trim, with a top fair­ing, pan­niers and a rear top box. The ba­sic fair­ing de­sign was later used on the FXRT Sport Glide in­tro­duced in 1983, along with the pan­niers. The Porsche col­lab­o­ra­tion con­tin­ued and re­sulted in the later V-Rod en­gine. The Nova V-4 1000 on dis­play in the Dee­ley mu­seum is an in­ter­est­ing piece of work, with tra­di­tional fins on the wa­ter-cooled heads and bar­rels, car­bu­ret­tors (al­though fuel-in­jec­tion was planned), and the fuel tank lo­cated un­der the seat, with the filler cap set into the right side tail fair­ing be­hind the seat.

Asym­met­ri­cal in­stru­ment clus­ter with ex­tra gauges set into the dummy fuel tank. The V-4 en­gine is a stressed mem­ber of the chas­sis. Un­der the or­ange cen­tre cover sits the fuel tank. What might have been.

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