RB Collection

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Indian Chief Roadmaster

Year: 1951|Miles: 18|Ext: Indian Red over Fallon Brown|

By the end of the 1940s, it was becoming clear that Indian Motorcycles were struggling. While they were still producing their typically robust and beautiful machines, poor decisions by management had left them struggling in their epic battle with Harley Davidson for superiority in the American motorcycle market. The DuPont Family had ceded control of the company, selling it to Ralph Rogers who in turn made a rash of changes to the lineup, serving only to confound buyers send sales into a tail spin. But poor management didn?t do anything to change the fact that Indian was still building the most beautiful and faithful motorcycles in America. In the final three years of Indian production (in its original guise, that is) for 1950-1953, they built some of the most iconic motorcycles in history.

RB Collection offers this magnificent and rare 1951 Indian Chief Roadmaster directly from an esteemed local collection. Estimates say that fewer than 500 motorcycles left the Springfield works in 1951, making this an extremely rare machine by all accounts. This particular example has a very interesting history that has been well documented. The story as we know it picks up with Ivan Thornburg of Winchester Indiana in the early 1980s. Correspondence from Mr. Thornburg states the bike was bought new by Cecil Bond who was a mechanic for the Muncie Indiana police department. He lightly modified the bike with police-spec parts to add a bit of performance and durability. Mr. Thornburg then acquired it in the late 1970s, and performed a light restoration on it in the early 80s, importantly retaining the original numbers-matching. The bike was featured (along with several other machines of Mr. Thornburg) in an issue of Iron Horse Magazine in 1985, copies of which are included in the sale.

The Chief then changed hands to Mr. B. Baker of Rancho Cucamonga, California. Mr. Baker enjoyed the bike as-is for several years before passing it along to Mr. Gilman, also of California. Mr. Gilman then took C4415 on the adventure of a lifetime ? a cross country trip organized by Kiwi Indian starting at Kiwi?s shop in California and running to Springfield, Massachusetts for the 100th anniversary of Indian Motorcycles. Not only did C4415 make the trip out, it also made the return trip! As a reward for its loyal service, Mr. Gilman embarked on a comprehensive, multi-year, concours-level restoration project culminating in the bike as you see it today.

Using a large number of original and NOS parts, the Indian was returned to its former glory and presents in better-than-new condition. It comes most recently from a local collector who rode the bike very minimally, keeping it mainly as the centerpiece to a collection of several significant bikes. The Indian Red over Fallon Brown paintwork is simply exquisite and is accented by plenty of gleaming, show quality chrome. Parts were sourced from the best names in the business such as Kiwi Indian, Starklite Cycles and others. Every single nut, bolt and fastener was restored with correct finishes and all fittings. The wiring and electrics have been upgraded to a more powerful and reliable 12V system, along with a concours correct AGM battery. All of the original 6V components have been retained should one wish to return it to exact spec. A gorgeous, fringed natural tan saddle has been fitted which compliments the beautiful color scheme.

Beyond just the incredible quality of the restoration, it comes equipped with an original Indian tool kit complete with Indian-branded tools and an exceedingly rare Indian-branded fire extinguisher. Valuable literature such as the original 1951 Rider Instruction booklet, parts manual and service manual are all included, along with reprints should you wish to reference the material in your shop.

This gorgeous and significant Indian Chief Roadmaster has been recently shaken down and is ready to enjoy or show as you see fit. As a testament to the quality of the restoration, it has recently been featured at the Simeone Foundation Museum in Philadelphia as part of a display of significant motorcycles. It was also the poster bike for the 2016 Radnor Hunt Concours d?Elegance where it received a Radnor Award. Sale includes the aforementioned tools and literature, as well as receipts from the restoration, historical documentation, copies of the? Iron Horse Magazine where it was featured, pennants from the 100th anniversary of Indian, and the original 6V generator and regulator. This is an unmatched opportunity to acquire what is surely one of the finest 1951 Chiefs available today.

  • Concours-quality nut-and-bolt restoration
  • Displayed at the Simeone Foundation Museum in Philadelphia
  • Numbers Matching
  • Great history
  • Fully equipped with literature and tools
  • Built to enjoy with upgraded 12V electrics (original 6V components included)
  • Truly stunning, one of the finest on offer