Founded in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1901, by George M. Hendee and Carl Oscar Hedström, the Indian Motorcycle Company was once considered as the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. Indian Motorcycles was also the first motorcycle manufacturer in the United States.
Originally founded under the name of Hendee Manufacturing Company, the Indian Motorcycle Company's first motorcycle was a single cylinder, 1.75 bhp. This motorcycle was an instant success in the United States and would sell over 500 models a year.
Indian Motorcycles built their first V-Twin engine in 1907 and this motorcycle not only made a strong number of sales but also broke and set many new World Land Speed records.
In 1911 on an Indian Motorcycle, Indian racers Godfrey, Franklin and Moorehouse took first, second and third place at the Isle of Man TT which coupled with an amazing success of the Indian Motorcycle Company, increased sales very dramatically.
Indian merged with E. Paul DuPont's, DuPont Paint Company in 1930 which had just recently started producing paints after they left the explosives market. At this time DuPont only had 24 colour choices, so likewise the Indian Motorcycles came in your choice of 24 colours.
Most of their competition at the time still only offered 1 colour for their motorcycle which was either red, blue or black.
By 1940, along with their aircraft engines, boat motors, bicycles and air conditioners, Indian Motorcycles had managed to catch up to the annual sales of their largest competitor, Harley-Davidson. This was also the same year that Indian Motorcycles introduced their trademarked skirted fenders that have become a symbol of a true Indian Scout or Chief.
During World War Two, Indian also sat in with the U.S. Army with their motorcycles being used by the military but unfortunately the number of Indian Motorcycles would not exceed the number of Harley-Davidson Motorcycle used by the military.
After the war in 1945, Indian Motorcycles started feeling a decline and the company was sold to Ralph B. Rogers who continued to produce Indians until the 1950's with the last and hardest to find traditional Indians from 1949 being the most impossible to find collectables due to their low production numbers.
The Indian Motorcycle name went into liquidation in 1962 but reappeared as an illegitimate trademark, by Floyd Clymer, who began using the Indian trademark that was never bought from the trademark owner.
Because of this illegitimacy, the Indian Motorcycle name went through a series of ownership claims throughout the 1990's due to Floyd Clymer's death and his widow selling the illegitimate trademark.
The ownership claims were finally settled in a U.S. Court and the Indian name was eventually bought by a new company based out of Gilroy, California who produced the Indian Motorcycles under the name Gilroy Indian.
The Stellican Limited Company bought the rights to the Indian Name in 2006 and moved its home to Kings Mountain, North Carolina, where it plans to resurrect the Indian brand under the original name of the New Indian Motorcycle Company.
The New Indian Motorcycle Company plans on releasing a newly designed version of the original Chief but without the flared fenders, as well as offering an extensive list of replacement parts for not only just the New Indian Motorcycles but also the Gilroy and the original Indian Motorcycles as well.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 07/06/2008