Indian Enfield Interceptor 750
Claimed power: 56hp @ 6,750rpm
Top speed: 115mph
Engine: 736cc OHV air-cooled parallel twin
Weight (dry): 410lb
Price then: $1,545
MPG: 37mpg (avg.)
I bought my first big Royal Enfield more than 30 years ago. Just saying that makes me realize why my hair is streaked with “sophisticated” gray.
I suppose I look back at that old 700 twin through rose-tinted glasses. It may have been very secondhand, but the engine had brutish power and was as smooth as any modern twin with balance shafts, almost certainly due to Enfield’s dynamic balancing of the rigid one-piece crankshaft.
I’ll admit the Armstrong gearbox needed firm pressure to make a change, but it had an auxiliary heel operated lever that let you go straight to neutral from any gear higher than first. And hammering along with the needle of the Smiths Chronometric hovering over the 110mph mark, the Enfield was rock steady.
But it was a heavy bike, and the chassis was out of date. I remember thinking that if only I could drop that engine into a modern frame with the latest suspension, I’d really have something. And that’s just what motorsports publisher Floyd Clymer did.
The beginning of the end
Like many enthusiasts, I’d heard about Clymer’s Indian Enfield Interceptor 750. With a mix of British and Italian engineering, it was the last gasp of the once famous Indian brand … until the next last gasp, that is.
The end of the Indian story started late in 1953, when the Springfield, Mass., company announced it was taking a “brief holiday” from making motorcycles. Unfortunately, the manufacture of Indians never started up again. The Indian Motocycle Company was split into separate sales and manufacturing entities, with British firm Brockhouse Engineering taking over the sales side, selling a Corgi minibike badged as the Indian Papoose and later the 250cc side-valve Brave — available with or without a sidecar.
For 1955, Brockhouse cut a deal with Royal Enfield to re-badge 700cc Enfield Meteors with Indian decals and sell them as the Indian Trailblazer. With a 100mph top speed it soon became the biggest seller in the Indian lineup. By 1959, Brockhouse was marketing a 700cc Meteor with fat 5.00 x 16in tires and heavily valanced fenders as the new Chief, with 50 sold to the New York Police Department. All told, Brockhouse sold more than 6,600 Indian Enfields, ranging from 250cc and 500cc singles to 500cc and 700cc twins.
In 1960, England’s Associated Motorcycles (AMC) acquired the rights to Indian, and its American dealers were re-branded AMC-Indian. Royal Enfields were now sold in the U.S. with adverts proclaiming: “The famous Royal Enfield makes its debut under its OWN NAME, shedding its American identity of feathers and warpaint.” This lasted until 1963, when Berliner Motor Corporation took over the distribution of AJS and Matchless motorcycles and dropped the Indian name. That’s where Floyd Clymer comes into the story.
To read more about the history behind the Indian Enfield Interceptor 750, including full-color photos and author Phillip Tooth's riding review, order the July/August 2011 issue of Motorcycle Classics. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.