1947 Indian Chief
45 cid, air-cooled V-twin

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Indian was founded in 1901 in Springfield, Massachusetts by Oscar Hedstrom and bicycle racer George Hendee. It is called the Indian Motocycle Company, not Indian Motorcycle Company. It seems Hedstrom was familiar with the Italian motorcycles having names beginning with “moto”. The earlier models looked like mopeds and only 3 were made in 1901. Triumph began production the next year – 1902, and Harley Davidson the year after that. The “Big Three” are still around a century later. In 1902, Indian produced 143 motorcycles.

The next major development came in 1916 with the creation of the 1-liter “Powerplus”. Both Hendee and Hedstrom left the company in 1916 being unable to agree with the Board of Directors. In 1918 the company offered for sale to the public its own new factory racer featuring 4 VPC (valves per cylinder). This was many years ahead of the competition. Top speed was 120 mph, but the racers were very light and had no brake lights, fenders or suspension. The high price of this racer resulted in very few sales. Two years later, the Power Plus street model was offered in a 74 CID (1200 c.c.) version for sidecar owners.

Another big development for the company was in 1920 when the Scout was “born.”

Originally it was only 600 cc. (37 CID) but was enlarged in 1928 to 45 CID (750 c.c.) and called the Scout 101. The 1928 Scout was regarded as Indian’s best handling, if not the best-ever made, motorcycle. It won many races. Its main competition was Excelisor-Henderson. Soichiro Honda rode a 101 Scout for a number of years and it inspired him to build motorcycles.

Despite mismanagement, Indian survived the Great Depression. In 1929 Paul Du Pont became the President of Indian marking the beginning of good management and profits. In 1934 the Sport Scout came out as a replacement for the 101. During WWII Indian made about 33,000 military cycles, but instead of profiting by the war, Indian lost money. Du Pont sold the company to Ralph Rogers who put much of his own money into the company. Indian was too small a company to keep up with the likes of the larger companies at the time such as Triumph, BSA, Norton and Royal Enfield. With the losses instead of profits, 1953 was the last year of all-American made Indians.


  • Restored by John Burgin, once owned by Les White
  • Note the throttle on the left, possibly a police model
  • 3-speed manual