Indian Chief Classic

Friday, May 14, 2010

1947 Indian Chief

The 1947 Indian chief was produced by the Indian Motocycle Company and for those that caught the seeming spelling error, yes that was how the company spelled its name. Its original co-owner Oscar Hedstrom was apparently familiar with the fact that Italian motorcycles names started with moto.

I was excited to find out that this motorcycle was in the Museum’s collection. I had recently gotten a very good documentary on Harley-Davidson motorcycles and they discussed the rivalry between the Harley-Davidison fans and the Indian fans and discussed the company’s history. It was started by a champion bicycle racer, Oscar Hedstrom and a brilliant engineer, George Hendee, in 1901.

The original owners decided to leave the company in 1916 and the company suffered years of mismanagement afterwords until the company was bought by Paul Du Pont who not only loved motorcycles but also knew how to run a business.

The Indian Chief motorcycles were started in production during Du Pont’s time of running the business in 1940. It was also the first motorcycle to have a stream lined design which meant making it look fast even when standing still.

I can’t believe that when these beauties first came out dealers were actually throwing them away because people did not like them at the time! The stream line designed was viewed by the consumer at the time to be extra and unwanted metal. I thoroughly wish that I had a time machine to go back and buy one of these when they were unwanted, particularly a 1940 one when they just came out.

Something that I thought was only like a car hood ornament, this Indian head was actually both a emblem for the company and a running light.

Indian Chief Classic

This particular one at LeMay – AMERICA’S CAR MUSEUM is a 1947. This was when the company was under the leadership of Ralph Rogers – the man that has been accused of killing the company as its doors closed just a few years after he was put in charge. His timing for new advancements in the motorcycles were bad, even though his concepts were good, and the company shut down in 1952.

However, the Indian Chief was the one tried and true model that the company sold continuously until it closed.

I highly recommend the documentary Hog Heaven – The Story of the Harley-Davidson that the History Channel did. I learned a great deal about the history and beauty of motorcycles and it was a lot of fun to watch.

You can currently see this classic at LeMay – AMERICA’S CAR MUSEUM in Tacoma, WA. Tell them Amber sent ya!

‘Til next time have a great day everyone!

Indian Chief Classic

  • Indian Motorcycles Returns…Again – Yahoo Autos
  • Ed Youngblood’s Motohistory News March 2008
  • 2014 Indian Chief Classic motorcycle review by Top Speed India
  • 2014 Indian Chief Classic Looks to Dominate Harley-Davidson – DailyFinance
  • Camping & RV touring