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Thread: Wanted Indian 4 (1920s-1930s vintage)

  1. #1

    Default Wanted Indian 4 (1920s-1930s vintage)

    To Whom It May Concern,

    My wife and I just moved to southern MD after getting out of the military last year. I've been looking for an Indian-4 for quite some time (1920s-1930s vintage), but do not want to spend an arm and a leg on her. I don't mind if she looks rough around the edges. My intent is to use the Indian-4 as a project for my son and I to drive, work on and enjoy daily. I can be reached at 760-518-4533 or jason.miller442@gmail.com. Thank you all in advance and I look forward to this new quest!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    Posts
    3,548

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    My advice would be; spend an arm and a leg and get a good one. I'm sure there are projects around, and probably owned by people who have poured thousands of dollars into a money pit, and still have not had a ride. I've owned 6,four cylinder motorcycles and got a ride on 2 of them. The other 4 beat the hell out of me and I was glad to send them to a new home. I'm not saying a long term, big dollar project can't be fun, but you better go into it with your eyes wide open so you don't do all the crap work, parts scrounging, and credit card hemorrhaging for it's next owner. If you do throw caution to the wind, and run out into the target range on a project bike, do your homework ! Parts are rare, and expensive, but most important is to make sure the frame, and motor are of the same year, or at least within a correct year range. Frames, and motors are very expensive, and you don't want to be forced to look for the one you need. Old motorcycles, and Fours (and Knuckleheads) in particular are a great investment; IF they are correct. . . If they're not, you could be stuck with a bike you have too much money into, and will not be able to recoup. There aren't many slack jawed yokels out there with bulging wallets. Modern vintage motorcycle collectors are very savvy, and know what they are looking at. Personally, I would get my feet wet in the vintage hobby with a Triumph, BMW, or '70s vintage Harley. Particularly for a Dad/Son deal. Parts are available, and you won't get bogged down with months, or years of trying to find some weird-ass part that you'll have to pry out of the wrinkled claws of a crazy hoarder who's cats will be eating him after he dies in his house stuffed with garbage Phew, there's a run-on sentence for you.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  3. #3

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    Sir,

    Thank you for the advice. I will continue to search for a decent one that is in a 'driver' condition (matching frame and engine as you recommended as well). Do you have any recommendations for places to start researching/inquiring beyond this forum?

  4. #4

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    Hi you have to keep your eyes open, search every where & keep asking any one in the hobby what your looking for. Turn over 9 rocks might be some thing good under the tenth. I agree with Eric, 4cyl. basket projects, unless their 90% complete get real expensive to finish. I chased a 40 running 4 all weekend at Oley this past year he was asking $45,000, lived close by said he would have taken $40,000 I could not swing it, not sure if he sold it, He did not come back Saturday. Fantastic machines & fun to ride, good luck, the hunting can be fun.

  5. #5

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    Thank you, sir. I'll continue the hunt!

  6. #6

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    Howdy Jason,

    Eric’s observations plus 2. You didn’t mention it but I’m kinda gathering this might be your first “serious” antique m/c, if so welcome to this world, you will discover unlike other endeavors (vintage Porsches for example) that everyone here and at CAIMAG are down to earth the usual expected outsized personalities being more curmudgeonly than egotistical.

    Now, very few of us here still own the first vintage machine they pursued on getting into this hobby as we’d prefer to have scarring hard bought lessons learned with those fade into our rear view mirrors and move on wiser for the experience to something more pleasant and rewarding. And that experience was usually gained on far more humble machines than you’re gandering at, an early Four is taking a huge bite out of the Elephant right out of the gate.

    Unlike even the most valuable Knuckles which can be essentially built by any competent HD mechanic or well equipped enthusiast in their home shop, despite what you may discover in your research about Indian dealers scraping Babbitt shells back in the day with knives and using a small jig to align main bearing saddles these motors are now at least 75 years old, do not survive with the hardy aplumb of era v twins, and require a skill set limited to very few people in this country who can be trusted to produce a motor adequate for more than the rigors of merely starting for the AMCA judges. Though technically simpler, late 20’s to 37 motors cost just as much for the all important lower and big end resuscitation but are not as valuable and easily sold as the 38 to 42’s, the 38 and 39’s pure artwork that will sell themselves with more shortcomings than the 40 to 42’s.

    This is a situation much like Vincent’s, the probable well healed purchaser of your completed machine or abandoned project only wants matching numbers and for the expense and challenge facing the average enthusiast embarking on a project like this they literally cannot afford anything less than a matching number no stories (hopefully full history) machine.... been there done that. I generally do websites for all of my machines and with feedback buttons one gets a global snap shot of a marque, where it stands and the problems encountered by owners both new and experienced. My 441 site below, without a doubt, has garnered more sad stories and mystifying problems than any other.

    Been riding Fours for 23 years and they are magical, not like any familiar v twin, and though flawed both mechanically and from a business model standpoint historically have a charm all their own, I’ll always have at least one. I’d make this quest a lengthy well studied one, Maryland is not far from Tiffin Ohio where the annual Four meet occurs in early August, this event concentrates pretty much all the best knowledge on the planet. Not only will you glean invaluable information but the hide bound tradional members of this club are getting up there in years and more machines are becoming available. I’d rate this as probably the safest venue to buy one of these machines for the unitiated, as everyone pretty much knows what their friends have. Good luck!

    http://www.patwilliamsracing.com/1941indianfour/

  7. #7

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    Sir,

    Thank you for the advice as well. I know that the Indian-4 (in my eyes, anyways) is the pinnacle of the hobby. You are correct in that I am not as well-versed in this realm as I should be. I will spend the time/resources necessary to find the right one and figure it will take a substantial amount of time and effort to acquire a decent one. If you know of anyone who is currently selling, I would definitely be interested. I will try to attend the Indian 4 event in Tiffin, Ohio as you recommended as well. That's half the fun...the hunt/people!

    Thank you again for the advice, and I'll keep digging!

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