Indian 1000cc Twin Sports,
Lot 452
1912 Indian 7hp Big Twin
Sold for £34,500 (US$ 57,988) inc. premium
Lot Details
1912 Indian 7hp Big Twin
Registration no. SV 8673
Engine no. 75D446
Oscar Hedstrom and Oliver Hendee, both active in the cycle racing world, got together to found the Hendee Manufacturing Company and build the first prototype Indian motorcycle in 1901. That first machine was powered by a single-cylinder, ‘F-head’ (inlet over exhaust) engine that formed part of the ‘diamond’ frame, in the Indian’s case it sloped rearwards to act as the seat tube. An advanced feature in motorcycling’s early, pioneering days, chain drive was used by Indian right from the start.

The Indian single proved immensely successful and provided the basis for the first of the powerful, large-capacity v-twins for which the marque is best remembered. Indian’s first, 38.61cu in (633cc) v-twin appeared in 1907 with an engine clearly derived from that of the single, though mechanical inlet valves - introduced for 1908 - were an early improvement. The twin’s rear cylinder continued to form part of the frame until 1909 when a loop frame of the type favoured by rivals Harley-Davidson was adopted. The Springfield company’s first ‘Big Twin’ debuted that same year displacing 60.32cu in (988cc). In 1911 Indian broke new ground yet again with their ohv four-valves-per-cylinder racers, and then in 1913 the Big Twin was up-dated with Indian’s innovative, leaf-sprung, swinging-arm frame. At the end of 1915 the Big Twin (by this time equipped with a three-speed countershaft gearbox and displacing 998cc) was superseded by a new ‘flat head’ v-twin - the Powerplus - thus bringing to an end a noble line.

This Big Twin dates from 1912, a year in which Indian sales benefited considerably from the firm’s famous 1-2-3 finish at the 1911 Isle of Man TT, a remarkable achievement made possible by the advantages conferred by the use of all-chain drive. This example has the ‘free engine’, a popular extra-cost option which interposed a clutch between it and the single-speed transmission. Prior to this innovation, riders had been forced to stop their engines when coming to a halt, so the ‘free engine’ represented an enormous step forward in convenience. The machine was acquired by the vendor in 2000, having been in its preceding owner’s hands (in America) since 1949. Since acquisition it has been rebuilt mechanically (during 2001/2002) but otherwise left untouched with neither the finish nor any of the other original features restored. Two Pioneer Runs have been completed successfully and the machine comes with Pioneer Certificate (no. 1595). In addition it is offered with a substantial history file containing rebuild invoices, (copy) 1912 catalogue, 1915 parts list, 1913 instruction book, spare tank transfers, expired MoTs (2000-2004), current MoT/road fund licence and Swansea V5 registration document.

The ultimate ‘Edwardian superbike’, Indian’s later Big Twins, the ultimate expression of Hedstrom’s original twin-cylinder F-head family, represent the culmination of an era that saw them dominate the American motorcycling scene on both road and track. As such, they are among the most sought after Indian motorcycles of the period.