Harley Davidson Rocket Engines

Harley Davidson LR-64 rocket engine

Harley Davidson LR-64 rocket engine

You might remember the Vincent Picador, a Vincent motorcycle engine used in some WWII target drones and whose left over high performance parts are still prized by Vincent motorcycle builders today. Well, Vincent isn't the only motorcycle company that built engines for drones, it looks like Harley Davidson got in on the action more recently, only, Harley Davidson didn't slap a V-Twin out there, though some have done that, instead, Harley went the high tech route and built rocket engines. Yes, ... Harley Davidson rocket engines!

This is definitely in the "things I didn't know" category, the Motor Company actually built over 5000 LR-64 rocket engines to power U.S. Navy target drones during a 30 year period beginning in the mid 1960s. The engines were built in the York, Pennsylvania plant.

The LR-64 is currently on display in the Collection X exhibit at the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee which runs until August 21st. So if you want to see these rocket engines for yourself, now is a great time to visit.

Link: Harley Davidson Museum


  1. HoughMade says

    This may explain those “running hot” complaints I’ve heard about Harleys lately.

  2. Scotduke says

    Just the job for Bonneville Speed Week I reckon. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has built an HD rocket powered bike or is planning to.

  3. Brent Meeker says

    The rocket motor was designed for and used in a supersonic aerial target, the AQM-37. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AQM-37_Jayhawk Harley really had nothing to do with it except they bought the small company in PA that made the motors for Beech Aircraft when Beech built the targets. The motors were originally designed and built by Rocketdyne. Later the Beech target operation was bought by Raytheon. The motor has two combustion chambers which are turned on and off to vary the thrust. It burns a hypergolic mixture of IRFNA (inhibited red fuming nitric acid) and MAE (modified amine fuel).

  4. Jeff says

    I found this page because I was looking for info on this engine. I happen to have one sitting in my office. I was going to scrap it until the guy I was taking the job from showed me the ID plate.

    Mine’s not chrome plated or very shiny, though!

    PS: sorry – not for sale. Still government property.

    • Ray says

      Hello Jeff,

      I am a collector of space / aviation artifacts and I consult with many museums where I loan many pieces to from my collection. I would be interested in buying / trading for your LR-64 to go with 5 other rocket engines I’m setting up for a museum display. Even if your motor is currently gov’t property, it’s legal to sell / give / donate the property if it is “scrapped” by the current holder. I would hate to see a nice piece like that sitting in a garage or closet when it could be enjoyed by thousands of people every year.

      Give me a call or email me to talk.

      Ray 714-625-7326 spacecrazy@verizon.net