Motorcycle Classics Blogs > Black Side Down

Indian Revival? New models set to debut in 2009

by Richard Backus


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Indian sign 

The track record of would-be motorcycle manufacturers trying to breathe new life into old names has been less than stellar. It’s been tried with Norton and Excelsior-Henderson, to name the most recent failings, and except for Triumph, it just doesn’t seem like anyone can make an old brand stick in a new market. Now, word comes of yet another new Indian, and this time it just might work.

Indian first quit making motorcycles back in 1953, a victim of poor product planning and increasing competition from European manufacturers and Harley-Davidson. That hasn’t stopped more than a few would be saviors from stepping in and trying to revive the once fabled marque. Sammy Pierce tried to give Indian a bump-start in the early Sixties, as did publishing magnate Floyd Clymer in the late Sixties, when he tried to restart the brand with Italian-framed, Velocette-powered Indians.

Things went quiet for a while, but then more wrangling surfaced in the 1990s, when several competing interests claimed rights to the Indian name after Philip Zhangi and Wayne Baughman’s aborted attempts to revive the brand. Lawsuits over ownership of the Indian name continued, and when the dust finally settled in 1999, a new Indian Motorcycle Company, based in Gilroy, Calif., was born.

The “Gilroy” Indians, as they were often called, were little more than H-D clones using S&S engines for power and parts from everyone in the accessory catalogs for everything else. That attempt went belly up 2003, just as the company announced a new, proprietary 100ci 45-degree V-twin. It was exactly what the new Indian needed, but it came too late and the company folded.

But it looks as if Indian’s set to rise again, and this time it might actually stick. Stellican Limited, a private equity firm, is the new owner of the Indian name, and they appear to have both the financial power and marketing savvy to make a revival work. Stellican has managed to engineer successful revivals of Chris-Craft boats in the U.S. and yacht manufacturer Riva in Italy, drawing accolades for keeping those brands alive and moving them forward.

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Headquartered in Kings Mountain, N.C., the new Indian Motorcycle Company is currently testing prototypes of a new Indian Chief it says will be available in 2009. Power comes from a fuel-injected version of the 100ci PowerPlus engine developed by the Gilroy company and built entirely in-house.

Not surprisingly, the new models borrow heavily from the Indian styling archive, with heavily-skirted fenders, big chrome pipes and a chrome-studded leather saddle. Indian says it will have a full range of accessories for the new Chief, and the company expects to have its desired 50 dealerships in place when the first bike goes on sale early next year.

No prices have been published, Indian saying only that the 2009 Chief will be “a premium motorcycle and priced accordingly.” Interested? Indian says a $1,000 deposit will ensure you’re among the first to own a new Indian. More at www.indianmotorcycle.com 

 

 

maxster
1/31/2008 2:30:38 PM

Remember "UJM" now its JAH, just another Harley. Hopefully Yamaha won't screw-up the long awaited Vmax update, and the original, ultra-reliable power cruiser will be back. Blown any V-twins off the road lately?


d.davis
1/30/2008 3:01:52 PM

Okay, just don't make it a Harley clone. I am sick of harleys. Maybe I am showing my age but I miss old in line 4 cylinder jap bikes, two stroke dirt bikes of yesteryear (cz, bultaco,ossa, penton). British bikes (bring back more than just triumph),Maybe that is why I have a garage full of old bikes. Give me an old Indian 4 cylinder, Heck I will take a KIWI engine Indian , but please no harley clone. Bring back the old American made YANKEE....do you remember those?.....SOmebody go save the Dreer Norton 961, if its not too late. How about the new Vincent (but call it something else ) what a stylish bike with some flair. Thank GOD buell is getting away from the Harley motor...


sameer
1/25/2008 9:57:06 PM

After all these years, does anyone still really care about Indian-branded motorcycles? Hasn't the world moved on, and aren't there enough Indian-style bikes done better by other manufacturers than Indian ever did themselves? Indian? Rust in peace... http://sameerkumar.blogspot.com


conchscooter
1/24/2008 9:10:48 AM

Triumph made a go of it by developing innovatinve engines based on their historic affiliation with triples and twins. Their motorcycles actually fill niches and the Speed Triple/Street Triple are proving to be among the most desirable in their class; so how exactly is yet another tired v-twin concept going to snag market share from Victory and H-D? http://conchscooter.blogspot.com


sidecarwilliam
1/23/2008 11:38:44 AM

Why all the work and time to get rights to the Indian name just to change it? The unique think about the name was the use of the word motocycle, not motorcycle. Just asking. bill.