Rare ’40 Harley ULH Was Father and Son Project
Words & Photos: John Gunnell
“After all those years of chopping and customizing motorcycles, I wanted to bring something back for the people to enjoy,” explained Charles Hadayia, from Norton, Mass., on the restoration of his fabulous 1940 Harley-Davidson ULH. “I wanted the folks to understand how motorcycles used to look and I knew they’d enjoy seeing one done the way they used to be.”
Hadayia—a sales manager at Precision Harley-Davidson in Pawtucket, Rhode Island—has actually been involved in the motorcycle business since 1974. Hadayia restored the vintage Harley-Davidson in conjunction with his son—also named Charlie—who is Director of Business Development for S & S Cycle, Inc.
Harnett’s Custom handled the frame work and paint in its Massachusetts shop. The younger Hadayia built the engine and transmission in Wisconsin. When all the pieces were finished, his father handled about 99 percent of the final assembly work in the Bay State. Accessories such as crash bars and saddle bags make this vintage Harley a real “dresser.” Only 672 Harley-Davidson ULHs left the assembly line in model year 1940 and this was the 14th of the series built.
The two Charlies spent many years together playing with motorcycles. Their outings included motor-cross racing and drag racing. “Bikes have been both my job and my hobby for many years,” said Charlie, Sr. “I’m very lucky because I get paid to practice my hobby and my son has been doing the same for the last 19 years with the last 10 years being at S & S.”
It was the younger Hadayia who found the rare bike while on a trip to Washington State about three years ago. He was visiting a dealer and I saw the ULH 80-cid flathead engine sitting on the shop floor. “I called dad and told him I was looking at something he wanted,” Charlie related. “He said he didn’t want anything — he was tired of fixing up old motorcycles—and I told him, “You want this!’”
Hadayia wound up buying everything in the place and, as he expected, his dad wound up buying the ULH. After that, although over 1,200 miles apart, they spent three years “working together” to restore the bike to the immaculate condition it’s in today.
The UH and ULH were introduced in 1937 and survived until the FL arrived. The FL used the same frame as the ULH, but the earlier model had a larger 80-cid (1.3 L) high-compression flathead engine. With a 3 7/16 bore x 4 9/32 inch stroke, it was the largest flathead V-Twin used in regular production bikes. “What I know is that it is one of 672 produced,” says Charles, Sr. “Better yet, it was number 14 off the line.”
Charlie says that restoring the Harley was exciting because he felt that he was preserving history. “Motorcycles are much more than steel and plastic to me,” Hadayia explained. “I love working at a Harley dealership because my job is selling dreams. I help people find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”