The Story of... The Indian Chief motorcycle 1922 - 1953

The oversized fenders, striking colours and raw power of the Indian Chief motorcycle have brought it a legion of fans.

The flagship motorcycle of the Massachusetts based Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, Chiefs were produced from 1922 until the company's demise in 1953.

First made with a 1000cc engine, the model underwent rapid improvements, emerging into the 1940's behemoth that is so beloved of collectors and investors today.

By 1940, all models had the trademark skirted fenders and sprung frame that set it apart from its rival cruiser the Harley-Davidson. Much more colourful than its black-clad adversary, the Chief was a lively and vibrant machine that turned heads wherever it went.

The classic styling on this 1948 model has attracted many collectors

The 1947 models, for example, were available in jet-black, seafoam blue or Indian red enamel, and had a range of different specifications, including the top of the range Roadmaster, complete with sport windshield and Chum-Me seat to enable a friend to come along too.

Famed for its comfortable ride, owners could put huge distances behind them in a day, with the later models capable of achieving 85mph. Its one drawback was a lack of acceleration, a necessary evil for a machine of its size.

Used by police and military the world over, the Chief's last hurrah came in 1950 when the V-twin engine was increased to 1,300cc.

Indian has been reincarnated several times in recent years and a version of the Chief is again on the market, but the original remains the best for many, which is why the bike is so popular at classic motorcycle auctions. This 1948 beauty recently sold for $14,000.


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