1920 Indian 7hp Powerplus
Engine no. 79R609
Competition between the major American motorcycle manufacturers was fierce in the 20th Century's opening decades, a factor that greatly accelerated technological development. In Indian's case, the need to stay ahead of rivals Excelsior and Harley-Davidson prompted the introduction of an eight-valve v-twin racer in 1911, and then in 1916 a new 1,000cc 'flat head' (sidevalve) v-twin - the Powerplus - was introduced to replace the production 'F-head' (inlet over exhaust) type.
Development of the Powerplus had been initiated after Harley-Davidson trounced Indian in the 300-mile Venice road race in the spring of 1915, chief designer Charles Gustafson suggesting that a well-designed sidevalve ought to prove good enough to beat the Harleys. The 42-degree v-twin configuration of the existing Oscar Hedstrom-designed F-head engine was retained, but with side valves and increased use of roller bearings. Gustafson's intuition did indeed prove correct, the new 61ci (1,000cc) twin proving more powerful than its predecessor right from the start, hence the 'Powerplus' name.
As part of the testing program prior to Powerplus introduction, works rider Erwin 'Cannonball' Baker rode a pre-production model from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico - an event known as the 'Three Flags' - in August 1915, traveling 1,655 miles in 3 days, 9 hours and 15 minutes, breaking the existing record and emphatically demonstrating the new design's speed and durability.
This particular Powerplus's front cylinder was missing at time of photography but has since been located and comes with the machine. Formerly the property of a Lee Pryor, the motorcycle was bought in 1952/53from John Pryor, Lee's son, who was Head of Parts Department at Atlantic Aviation. The machine retains its original paintwork. Sold on a bill of sale.