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