The question came up again elsewhere, so thought I’d share this.
Olive Green versus Drab, here’s the full 9 yards.
• In 1916 the standard civilian colour was Gray*.
• In 1917 Harley started using a gloss light green (the colour of green olives) on civilian bikes, now most often referred to as Olive Green. However, at the time, to cash-in on WW1 patriotism Harley named it Military Drab*.
• Some photos of military Harleys of the time looked to be a similar shade, but definitely matt, usually without lining.
• By 1919 Harley called the civilian colour Military Olive Drab*.
• It was not a drab colour, it was still the light shade that most people now call gloss Olive Green.
• In ’22 and ’23 the standard colour was a dark green, gloss Brewster Green*, though Olive Green was an option.
• In ’24 the standard colour reverted to the same gloss light green as before, Harley renaming it Olive Green* (people were trying to forget the war by then, Roaring ’20’s and all that). The name had changed but the colour had not (except for the Brewster Green years).
• Olive Green remained the standard colour till ’32 and continued as an option for many years.
• WW2 military 45’s were usually (not always) finished in a dark matt green, generally referred to as Military Drab, but nothing like the colour Harley referred to in 1917 as Military Drab and by 1919 Military Olive Drab.
*All taken from Harley annual new model brochures