A Brief History of Indian Motorcycle.
America's love for the motorcycle began in 1900 with bicycle racer George M. Hendee and engineering wizard Carl Oscar Hedstrom. In 1901, the partners unveiled their first creation, the 1901 Single. The trade name chosen for their innovative machine would signify "a wholly American product in pioneering tradition". The name was Indian.
Indian wins the Gold Medal for Mechanical Excellence at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. In 1906, George Holder and Luis Muellr ride an Indian from San Francisco to New York City in 31 trouble-free days, breaking the existing record by over 18 days. A 1907 Indian Twin wins the first English 1000-mile Reliability Trial. The New York City Police Department buys two Indian Twins to chase down runaway horses.
By 1911, Indian riders hold every American speed and distance record. In 1914, over 3,000 employees work on a 7-mile long assembly line in Indian's 1-million square foot Springfield, Massachusetts plant Racing activities are suspended in 1916 as the company supplies the war effort with 41,000 machines.
In 1923 the company is renamed Indian Motocycle Company, dropping the "r" in "motorcycle". It's a decade of growth for the Indian model line, starting with the revolutionary 1920 Scout and followed by the 95-mph Chief, the even more powerful Big Chief, the lightweight Prince, the awesome 4-cylinder Four. The 1928 101 Scout becomes the machine of choice for "wall of death" stunt riders.
The Art Deco era hits the Indians adorned in a full range of Duco colors, two-tone designs, pinstriping, and decals. Two new lightweight models debut in 1932, the Motoplane and the Pony Scout. "Iron Man" Ed Kretz, aboard a Sport Scout, laps the entire field in his win at the 1937 inaugural Daytona 200. With the onset of World War II in 1939, the focus again shifts to providing the War Department with motorcycles. The government of France orders 5,000 Chiefs with sidecars.
The entire 1940 Indian line appears with the now-famous deeply valanced fenders. Production during the war years is mainly military and police vehicles. In 1945 the company is sold and consolidated into the Torque Engineering Company. Later, the company is divided, with manufacturing going to the Atlas Corporation and distribution to The Indian Sales Corporation. In 1948, Floyd Emde rides a 648 Scout to Indian's final Daytona 200 win.
Following the war, Indian struggles with re-entry into the public market. The Chief, dropped for a year, is re-introduced in 1951 as a mighty 80-cubic inch model, but sales continue to decline and Indian is forced to halt production in 1953.
A complex web of trademark rights foil numerous attempts to revive the Indian name until 1998, when several formerly competing companies merge to become the Indian Motorcycle Company. Manufacturing begins in 1999, but the venture proves unsuccessful, and 2003 is the company's final model year.
In 2004, Stephen Julius and Steve Heese, after resurrecting the struggling Chris-Craft Boat Company, turn their attention to Indian. They acquire trademark rights and intellectual properties, and begin to gear up for a return to production by the second half of 2008.
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