View Full Version : Needed: 20 Harley XLAs and 20 BMW R71s, circa 1940 (or their reasonable faximiles)

07-15-2017, 9:23 AM
During WWII Russia bought 20,000 Harleys, mostly WLAs. I'm an indepedent movie producer that (taking extreme liberties with actual history) is pitching a concept where Russian rifle-squads/snipers, (many of them women) were rushed into pivotal battles on these Harleys during the winter of 1940-41.

Where I need help is how to make reasonable look-alikes of the XLAs and the BMW R71s that will battle throughout the film. I have seen that somewhere in China they make an R71 look alike (or at least they did until a few years ago), and I do see that the Ural lineup could probably be made-up to look like an R71.

What I'm trying desperately to avoid is the film being panned by Harley-mavens everywhere because the machines look nothing like the real-McCoy WLAs. The film will also have a limited budget, so I can't spend half that on completely custom bikes.

So, what's my best route to getting 20 or so WLA look alikes? Who was still using that engine/body design into the '70s or '80s that I can go search junkyards and Craigslist? Failing all that ... who could make WLA look-alikes for a reasonable cost?

Thanks for helping.

07-15-2017, 9:32 AM

07-15-2017, 10:26 AM
where Is the film going to be filmed?... if in Europe seek out the Military Vehicle Owners Club and see if their members would want to have a ride on roll in your film for a fee,.... you would get A) People who know how to ride them....B) correct period bikes not ''look alike's''.... C) It will be cheaper than having nasty look alike's built that will get a grilling from the rivet counters.......

07-15-2017, 11:14 AM
"...rivet counters." That is an awesome description!

Yes, filming in Europe would definitely be the best way to tap-into reenactors and their equipment. If a major studio picked this up, I'm almost sure that's where they would go. However, that's their problem. Pitching a US based film is my task.

The current plan is to film in rural northern Minnesota/the Dakotas. Barren as heck. Abandon/dilapidated/remote industry here and there. Lots of cold. Lots of snow. Close enough to the open prairies near Kursk.

So ... I need XLAs, R71s, and some Russianish non-beauties that can act, shoot and ride. (I have someone else looking for them)


07-15-2017, 1:36 PM
Contact property masters in the movie industry instead of reinventing the fucking wheel.

Check with MVPA and any other vintage military vehicle preservation groups. Collectors often have a mix of vehicles including bikes.

Be creative about how many bikes you actually need in one shot because getting a large group will be tough.

Combat in Russia was dusty as fuck so remember that when you want a background which might, ahem, partially conceal some vehicles and props. OTOH you could get some good aerial shots of moving vehicles doing their dusty dramatic thing.

Be open to other vehicles instead of just a bunch of motorcycles. There are plenty of vintage military vehicles which would make the flick more interesting than just motorcycles. IRL combat (as you can see from photographs) employed a diverse mix. Points for unusual trucks too and half-tracks both US and Axis.

Reasonable cost? HAHAHA. That term has no meaning. Start with the money then figure out how to get the best result at different amounts of funding. Cinematography is more important than quantity of objects.

Tanks. Everyone loves them and you should be able to find a T-34 or two in CONUS. Remember Shermans and Grants were sent to Russia along with a fuckload of Lend-Lease equipment. Referred to as the "Emcha", Shermans were popular with their crews. Adding customary logs for obstacle crossing is a Russian and sometimes Axis touch. Dodge trucks were vital to Soviet victory.

Use Urals for BMWs. No one gives a fuck so long as you get the paint close enough. Have a local shop fab simple MG mounts and see a property master for blank firing and inert weapons. You might interest a Ural owners club.

Waffen SS BMW paint jobs look good. It's a movie so chicks BTFO Adolf's best won't have real negatives. You want to sell tickets, it's not a reenactment.

If you attend a couple of sizeable gun shows you can sometimes find collectors who work with film makers. I've met a couple but didn't save their data because that's not my gig and full auto collecting is for the wealthy.

If you are making a film for autistic spergatroids you'll fucking starve to death. Ignore them. Old farts understand and the few who don't will be dead in a few years. The number of both who buy movies would be vanishingly small.

Junkyards and Craigslist won't have shit. Kill whatever generated that thought. Don't get into the resto business. You need turnkey equipment so you can film instead of getting sidetracked with built-in production delays.

Check the Steel Soldiers forum. It's strictly moderated to keep anyone who isn't dead serious the fuck out. In that case it makes perfect sense because wannabes waste bandwidth.

Viewers are more anal about firearms, uniforms and kit than vehicles. Fortunately milsurp weaponry abounds. Both sides used captured vehicles and you could copy some of the markings. Water-based paint is a thing for easy removal if needed.

Drum fed Russian SMGs are mediagenic. Schmeissers are mediagenic. Stick grenades are nice too.

Look at pics of period Russian houses and buildings so your shots don't look grossly American. Factories were similar enough to interchange.

Movie has women and violence, so naturally flog the strong empowered wimmen angle when marketing.

Remember Americans who buy MOST movie tickets DGAF about history but want entertainment. Many Russian troops were Asiatic so you can go that route for some diversity. Look at contemporary pics and watch old Soviet propaganda films on Youtube for tips on period atmosphere.

Audiences masturbate to outnumbered underdogs, so you could get away with fewer HD lookalikes and more Urals for Axis troops to die on.

Find classic water cooled MGs like Maxims etc for the Russians. You won't need many.

Easy way to simulate supplies is wooden crates and 55 gallon drums. Contact WWII reenactors for more detailed info.

Dunno if you want to go with the modern (and accurate) meme of high casualties but it's certainly period correct to have many casualties and sudden bloody death of females in combat could be useful for effect.

Consider Royal Enfields for some of the Russian motorcycle fleet if you need volume.

Flathead 45s are fucking old. Remember that when shooting so you have no delays when one doesn't want to start/run/stay running.

A small unit of four to eight would be practical. Need a shitload for a key shot or two? Price CGI.

Avoid too much conversation. That made much of Hell Ride suck. Tarantino fans tolerate the excessive babble for the tasty violence. You aren't Tarantino.

Viewers will notice American accents.

Mud and dirt covered everything, so you can use that to hide details.

Osprey are a goldmine of WWII military paint schemes, pics and vehicle details.


Have fun.


07-17-2017, 2:58 PM
Call your local A.M.C.A in the areas you plan to film and ask them .

07-17-2017, 3:53 PM
Until Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941 the Soviets were fighting WITH the Germans so it is doubtfull if the soviets would have had Loan Lease WLA's at the time of the 1940-1941 winter for a start.
& if as you say the plot concept is ''where Russian rifle-squads/snipers, (many of them women) were rushed into pivotal battles on these Harleys during the winter of 1940-41'' ..........So...
A) It cannot have happened....they weren't receiving loan lease in the winter of 1940.
B) IF,...IF the concept is pivotal that the snipers were carried into battle on WLA's..... then they must be WLA's....
or ya may as well use Goldwings !!.......
& will an Americaan film maker PLEASE get the fucking facts straight for once !!!

07-17-2017, 7:53 PM
The soviets were fighting with the Germans against Stalin because they knew what a monster he was. Nobody else was fighting them so the Germans were it for joining forces. They were a Calvery unit that actually still moved artillary with animals.
At the end of the war the allies promised to protect them from being sent back to Russia.
Well, Stalin asked for them and they weren't worth upsetting the apple cart of how Europe was being divided up. They gave them back to Russia and they were all promptly executed. This is a close copy of their unit badge.
They were the original "Iron horseman ".
I actually picked this up in a Russian flea market in Coney Island back around 2002-3 before the "Mermaid parade".
I always thought I would have a small copy of it painted on my oil tank or would look good on a points cover.
My secret is out , you can steal it now.

07-17-2017, 7:53 PM
high heeled boots, tight skirts and shredded halter tops with big boobies bouncing around while they are machine gunning wearing stolen nazi medalians...you could put them on mopeds and no one would notice. I am sorry for the bs post just couldnt pass up thanks tho, nothing is more irritating then spotting all the vehicle type errors in movies and i always do.

Ural probably way to go best luck to you