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|2016 Indian Chief 1811cc
|In 1950, the V-twin engine was enlarged to 1,300 cc (79 cu in) and
telescopic forks were adopted. But Indian's financial problems meant
that few bikes were built. Production of the Chief ended in 1953.
World War II
1939 Indian Dispatch Tow, 3-wheeler
1942 Indian Scout 500, the 741, used by the US ArmyChiefs, Scouts,
and Junior Scouts were all used for various purposes by the United
States Army in World War II. However, none of these could unseat the
Harley-Davidson WLA as the motorcycle mainly used by the Army.
The early version was based on the 750 cc (46 cu in) Scout 640
compared directly with Harley's offer, the WLA, but was either too
expensive or heavy, or a combination of both. Indians eventual offer,
the 500 cc (31 cu in) 741, was underpowered and could not compete
with the WLA. Indian also offered a version based on the 1,200 cc (73
cu in) Chief, the 344. Approximately 1,000 experimental versions
mounting the 750 cc motor sideways and utilising shaft drive, as on a
modern Moto Guzzi, the 841, was also tried.
During World War II, the US Army requested experimental motorcycle
designs suitable for desert fighting. In response to this request,
Indian designed and built the 841. Approximately 1,000 841 models
The Indian 841 was heavily inspired by the BMW R71 motorcycle
used by the German Army at the time, as was its competitor, the
Harley-Davidson XA. However, unlike the XA, the 841 was not a copy
of the R71. Although its tubular frame, plunger rear suspension, and
shaft drive were similar to the BMW's, the 841 was different from the
BMW in several aspects, most noticeably so with its 90-degree
longitudinal-crankshaft V-twin engine and girder fork.
The Indian 841 and the Harley-Davidson XA were both tested by the
Army, but neither motorcycle was adopted for wider military use. It
was determined that the Jeep was more suitable for the roles and
missions for which these motorcycles had been intended.
In 1945, a group headed by Ralph B. Rogers purchased a controlling
interest of the company. On November 1, 1945, duPont formally
turned the operations of Indian over to Rogers.
Under Rogers's control, Indian discontinued the Scout and began to
manufacture lightweight motorcycles such as the 149 Arrow, the
Super Scout 249, both introduced in 1949, and the 250 Warrior,
introduced in 1950. These bikes suffered from poor quality and a lack
of development. Production of traditional Indians was extremely
limited in 1949, and no 1949 Chiefs are known to exist. Manufacture of
all products was halted in 1953.
Brockhouse Engineering acquired the rights to the Indian name after
it went under in 1953. They imported Royal Enfield motorcycles from
England, mildly customized them in the US depending on the model
and sold them as Indians from 1955 to 1960. Almost all Royal Enfield
models had a corresponding Indian model in the USA. The models
were Indian Chief, Trailblazer, Apache (all three were 700 twins),
Tomahawk (500 twin), Woodsman (500 single), Westerner (500
single), Hounds Arrow (250 single), Fire Arrow (250 single), Lance
(150 2-stroke single) and a 3-wheeled Patrol Car (350 cc single).
In 1960, the Indian name was bought by AMC of England. Royal
Enfield being their competition, they abruptly stopped all Enfield-
based Indian models except the 700 cc Chief. Their plan was to sell
Matchless and AJS motorcycles badged as Indians. However, the
venture ended when AMC itself went into liquidation in 1962.
1972 Indian MM-5A minibikeFrom the 1960s, entrepreneur Floyd
Clymer began using the Indian name, apparently without purchasing
it from the last known legitimate trademark holder. He attached it to
imported motorcycles, commissioned to Italian ex-pilot and engineer
Leopoldo Tartarini, owner of Italjet Moto, to manufacture Minarelli-
engined 50 cc minibikes under the Indian Papoose name. These were
so successful that Clymer also commissioned Tartarini to build full-
size Indian motorcycles based on the Italjet Grifon design, but fitted
firstly with Royal Enfield Interceptor 750 cc parallel-twin engines, then
with Velocette 500 cc single-cylinder Thruxton engines.
After Clymer's death in 1970 his widow sold the alleged Indian
trademark to Los Angeles attorney Alan Newman, who continued to
import minicycles made by ItalJet, and later manufactured in a wholly
owned assembly plant located in Taipei (Taiwan). Several models
with engine displacement between 50 cc and 175 cc were produced,
mostly fitted with Italian two-stroke engines made either by Italjet or
Franco Morini, but the fortunes of this venture didn't last long. By
1975, sales were dwindling, and in January 1977, the company was
declared bankrupt. The right to the brand name passed through a
succession of owners and became a subject of competing claims in
the 1980s, finally decided in December 1998 by a Federal bankruptcy
court in Denver, Colorado.
Indian Motorcycle Company of America (1999–2003)
The Indian Motorcycle Company of America was formed from the
merger of nine companies, including manufacturer California
Motorcycle Company (CMC) and IMCOA Licensing America Inc.,
which was awarded the Indian trademark by the Federal District
Court of Colorado in 1998. The new company began manufacturing
"Indian"-badged motorcycles in 1999 at the former CMC's facilities in
Gilroy, California. The first "Gilroy Indian" model was a new design
called the Chief. Scout and Spirit models were also manufactured
from 2001. These bikes were initially made with off-the-shelf S&S
engines, but used the 100-cubic-inch (1,600 cm3) Powerplus engine
design from 2002 to 2003. The Indian Motorcycle Corporation went
into bankruptcy and ceased all production operations in Gilroy on
September 19, 2003.
Indian Motorcycle Company (since 2006)
Headquarters Kings Mountain, North Carolina, USA
On July 20, 2006, the newly-formed Indian Motorcycle Company,
owned largely by Stellican Limited, a London-based private equity
firm, announced its new home in Kings Mountain, North Carolina,
where it has restarted the Indian motorcycle brand, manufacturing
Indian Chief motorcycles in limited numbers, with a focus on
exclusivity rather than performance, like a 'luxury' watch. Starting out
exactly where the defunct Gilroy IMC operation left off in 2003 all of
the new models are continuation models based on the new series of
motorcycles developed in 1999. The 2009 Indian Chief incorporated a
redesigned 105-cubic-inch (1,720 cc) Powerplus V-twin powertrain
with electronic closed-loop sequential-port fuel injection and a
charging system providing increased capacity for the electronic fuel
injection. Indian was bought out by Polaris Ind. in 2011.
Indian Motorcycle Production has moved to Iowa. Polaris sales were
up 7-9% in 2014.. We think Indian sales continue to rise, but
have no info to back that up. The plug was pulled on Victory,
Land speed records
Between 1962 and 1967, Burt Munro from New Zealand used a
modified 1920s Indian Scout to set a number of land speed records,
as dramatized in the 2005 film The World's Fastest Indian.