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Thread: Indian Four production numbers?

  1. #1

    Default Indian Four production numbers?

    Hi- have been trying to figure out how many of the fours were made by year. Not easy to find on the web at least. It would seem that there were less than 1000 produced every year they were made as the frame numbers are starting 1000 above the previous year. Are there any authoritative information on this available?

    Best
    NilsR

  2. #2
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    I well have a look at my books, but they made more Indian fours than any other brand I think. Except for Henderson's of course. Interesting to know though, don't know if my books have much info on them as far as numbers produced - but I well give it a look.

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    Good information is hard to find. Translating from Stefano Milani's privately published book 'Pluricilindriche', which covers every 3-8 cylinder bike built worldwide 1895-1968, he says the total production of Indian Fours over 15 years was about 9400, with a good part going to the Highway Patrol.

  4. #4

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    It was said Indian skipped serial numbers to inflate totals, especially during the thirties. I have never seen a 4 digit serial number on a four, but would love to know the truth.

  5. #5

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    Howdy sir,

    Don’t know that I’ve seen an engine number much over 600 for a 440 - 441 and none over 300 on a 442 (and that’s with them starting at 101).

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    I was shocked after reading several hours in different books, I had read it before - but forgot much. It appears production numbers were really quite low. I think your number of 800 or so, may be best case situation. With some years if not most, far less. Surprising to me, I guess because of a high survival rate.

  7. #7

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    Howdy MrTom,

    When I mechanically resurrected my 440 in 95 in the link below one of the first chaps I ran into was Butch Baer at the races at Daytona Bike Week in 96 (will scan and digitize that photo for here, he in his leathers between sessions still racing) and by his reaction I knew, my long time friendship with Dick Davies aside, I needed to enable as many of the old guard to see and hear this dusty machine as possible as it represented what they recalled and strived to preserve rather than the flashy 441 I went on to restore later which is on Butch’s Indian Four book cover. If you look at some of the old pics from the Indian Four meets held in Tiffin, it was Indian enthusiasts, predominantly from practical purpose with many Chiefs and Scouts, who made/make room/financial sacrifice for one of these cherished machines. No, acknowledge whole heartedly these are not bullet proof like my Knuckle or Vincent’s or whatever, but wow, what a riding experience.

    https://petergz.smugmug.com/Motorcyc...0-Indian-Four/

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    Before the Harley 'black book' was published with production numbers by year, I estimated VL numbers by making a database of engine numbers I'd seen over several years. The estimates by model year were gratifyingly close to the Harley numbers when these were released. We now have a worldwide VL Register with over 1200 surviving engine numbers, so owners can see if other VLs are close to their bike's production date. I think Doug Strange from the Perkiomen Chapter has some sort of four cylinder ACE register, and I have seen a typewritten list of maybe forty or fifty bikes worldwide. The Henderson KJ Website notes engine numbers of bikes seen at the Oley Meet for Steve Ciccalone's memorial, which would give a first shot at 1929-31 production figures for these fours. So we 'only' need someone to step up and collect all the Indian Four engine numbers, and that should give a fair estimate of production figures by model year. My guess would be high hundreds 1927-30, then low hundreds thereafter in the Depression, but let's find out.

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    I was reading for several hours yesterday - slow reader :-) I was surprised even the Henderson Deluxe's were fairly small numbers. From American Excelsior, a little over a 1000 a year roughly average. Man I thought they turned out a lot more than that, especially the Deluxes. I have been told though, that they probably built about 2000 plus a year. By a Henderson collector, who has much experience with them and has owned many of them. When I met him, he had 5 running Henderson's ! Also I was reading that the fours cost about as much as a four door Buick when new ! Man - I don't know how they sold as many as they did given that fact. Enjoying this thread, agree with the post thus far - we love our fours :-) I only have the one and it is the only one I well ever have, lucky to have it. It was the most expensive motorcycle I ever bought at the time, even as a basket case. Peter, enjoyed reading about your four, thanks for the link
    Last edited by Tom Lovejoy; 01-07-2018 at 11:39 PM.

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    The excellent book American Excelsior by AMCA members Thomas Bund and Robert Turek gives some Henderson Excelsior production figures on pages 440/1. For 1925/6/7 is shows Henderson De Luxe production at 1401, 1036 and 1045 units respectively. We might speculate that Indian Four production for the late 1920s was in the same ball park. 1929-31 Excelsior production is given as estimated 2200, 1500 and 457 units, which includes both Super-X and Henderson. For these years Super-X serial numbers started at 6500, 7000 and 7400 so fewer than 500 were being made each year, leaving maybe 1700, 1100 and say 300 max being the KJ production numbers. I am the proud owner of a 1929 Henderson KJ, easily the most produced year. The KJs also have their 'birthday' cast in the top half of the crankcase, which is also a guide to dating. The new 1929 KJ was a significantly new bike compared with the De Luxe models, and must have been some kind of hit in the months either side of the Wall Street crash in October 1929. After this, 1930 production was well down, and businessman Schwinn pulled the plug on the company early in '31.

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