End of the Line: 1953 Indian Chief

Only 350 or so 1953 Indian Chiefs were ever built. This one was restored by marque expert Matt Blake.

| May/June 2020

1953-indian-chief

1953 Indian Chief

Engine: 1,300cc (79.84ci) flathead air-cooled 4-stroke 42-degree V-twin, 3-1/4in x 4-11/16in bore and stroke, 6.5:1 compression ratio, 50hp at 4,800rpm (American Motorcycling, December 1952)
Top speed: 92mph (period test)
Carburetion: Single Amal Type 6
Transmission:
3-speed, left-hand shift, left-foot clutch, chain final drive
Ignition:
6v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/wheelbase:
Dual downtube steel cradle/62in (1,575mm)
Suspension:
Telescopic forks front, dual plungers rear
Brakes:
8in (203mm) SLS drum front and rear
Tires:
5 x 16in front and rear
Weight (dry):
570lb (259kg)
Seat height:
30.5in (775mm
Fuel capacity/MPG:
3.4gal (12.9ltr)/35-45mpg
Price now:
$25,000-$50,000

Matt Blake started learning about Indians when he went to work for Sammy Pierce, known to many as “Mr. Indian.”

At the time, Sammy was managing the Steve McQueen estate’s motorcycles. “During that time, I got hooked on Indians.” That was a while back, but Matt has stayed hooked. His aim in life is to keep classic Indians on the road. At this point, it looks like he is succeeding.



After the job with the McQueen estate ended, Matt started a business manufacturing tanks, fenders and other sheet metal pieces for Indians. He also does restorations and repairs. In order to advertise his business, he goes to a lot of classic bike events (well, at least that’s why he says he goes to all those events). Matt was at the big Davenport, Iowa, show and swap meet when he met Mike Oddo, the third owner of the 1953 Chief you see here. They started talking, and Oddo hired Matt to restore it.

1953-indian-chief-owner-matt-blake
Matt Blake aboard the Chief.



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