The rebirth of the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company continues with the unveiling of the first new custom model under Polaris Industries ownership at the New York City International Motorcycle Show. Dubbed the Indian Big Chief Custom, the one-off special is a showcase for the brand’s Genuine Indian Accessories, offering a glimpse of the possibilities for […]
Collection Of Rare Indian Motorcycles Up For Auction, March 8
On March 8, four rare Indian motorcycles, some of which date back over a century, will be up for auction at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Now in its 16th year, the single-day sale includes a stunning roster of more than 80 investment-quality vehicles including a stellar group of early Indian motorcycles.
The oldest of the collection is a 1909 Indian 5HP Light Twin. This model is significant as it marks Indian’s departure from using modified bicycle frames to incorporating loop frames, previously only seen on the company’s racing motorcycles.
A new, streamlined torpedo-type gas tank was fitted between the upper and lower tank rails, and oil was carried in a large capacity half-gallon tank that was fixed to the frame beneath the seat. In addition to the improved 2.75-horsepower single cylinder model, two new twins were offered, the five horsepower 38-cubic-inch Light Twin and the sturdy seven-horsepower, 61-cubic inch Big Twin. Mechanical intake valves were also now standard equipment on all models.
This rare 1909 Indian Twin, formerly of the Jim Atchley Collection, is preserved in unrestored, original condition, and it still retains its unusual Green factory paint. The machine features the five-horsepower, 38-cubic inch, twin-cylinder pocket-valve engine and its original Hedstrom carburetor and Bosch magneto. Other high-wear items, such as the seat, pedals, and grips, are also original to this machine. This remarkably preserved bike is among the earliest original twin-cylinder Indian motorcycles in existence.
Next is a 1911 Indian 4HP Single Board Track Racer. The single-cylinder 1911 Indian Board-Track Racer presented here is among the most original early racing machines in existence, and it remains in virtually as-raced condition. The machine features a four horsepower, 30.5-cubic inch pocket-valve engine with a mechanically operated intake valve, a Hedstrom carburetor, and single-speed drive. This motorcycle retains its original factory paint and has remnants of the dealer decal still present on the tank. It features factory-dropped racing handlebars and an original Messinger seat, as well as the original Hedstrom racing spark plug. Aside from the tires, all other parts are original, including the 28×2.25-inch racing-type rims.
This machine has been on display at the Wheels Through Time Museum in North Carolina for over a decade, and it has been run for visitors on a regular basis. Few genuine examples of early Indian racing machines exist today, and even fewer remain in original running condition.
Third is a 1911 Indian 4HP Single Road Model. This 1911 Indian Single is preserved in remarkable unrestored, original condition. It features Indian’s four-horsepower single-cylinder engine with the original magneto ignition and Hedstrom carburetor. A single-speed countershaft transfers power from the motor to the rear wheel via front and rear drive chains. The machine still retains its original red paint and countless accessories, including the original front-wheel drive speedometer, an acetylene-powered headlight and taillight, a manual Indian horn, an accessory air pump, a leather tool bag with the original toolkit, extremely rare leather saddlebags, and an original Indian flag, which mounts to the handlebars. Importantly, the Indian is in fully operational running condition.
The last, and newest, of the four Indians is this 1914 Indian 7HP twin “Hendee Special”. The Hendee Special featured the company’s seven-horsepower, 61-cubic inch Twin engine in the now-standard cradle-spring frame, and it was also equipped with an electric starter, electric lighting, and an electric horn.
While sound in its engineering, the Hendee Special came too far ahead of its time. Battery technology during the mid-1910s was not sufficient for day-to-day operation, and batteries would often become completely exhausted after only a few dozen starts. Due to the public’s dissatisfaction from repeated battery failures, the factory halted production of the new model in March 1914, and the rest of the 1914 model year featured machines built without electric equipment. The financial loss to the company was more than considerable, as an estimated $100,000 was expended for the model’s development the previous year. Further, an electric starter would not return to motorcycling for another four decades.
The 1914 Indian presented here is among less than a handful of Hendee Specials known to exist today. It is being offered from the Dick Olof Collection, and it has been preserved in unrestored condition, with its original paint. It also still retains its electric starter, which was commonly removed from most examples. Most importantly, the present caretaker has maintained the bike in running and fully operational condition, and except for its tires, all components remain original. In auction, this Hendee Special is estimated to be worth up to $160,000.
For more information on the auction, visit www.rmauctions.com.