Indian Revival? New models set to debut in 2009

| 1/21/2008 2:41:05 PM

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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.

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?

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 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...

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...

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