c.1939 Indian Four
Frame no. 439432
Engine no. DCI432
Marketed as the Indian Ace for 1928, the Springfield Company's first four-cylinder motorcycle had resulted from its purchase of Ace rights and tooling from Detroit Motors the previous year. The Ace Company, although bankrupted twice, had developed a fundamentally sound four-cylinder motorcycle based on William Henderson's original design, and this provided Indian with an opportunity to offer an in-line 'four' with minimal development costs.
The Ace was William Henderson's second four-cylinder motorcycle. One of the most charismatic names in American motorcycling history, the Henderson Company - founded by Tom and William Henderson in Detroit in 1912 - produced nothing but four-cylinder motorcycles in the course of its 19-year existence. The firm passed into the control of Chicago-based cycle maker Ignaz Schwinn, owner of Excelsior, in 1917 and the Hendersons soon moved on to found the Ace motorcycle company - later taken over by Indian - thereby having a hand in the design of all the major American-built fours.
Having acquired the Ace, Indian made few changes for the next couple of years before beginning to put its own characteristic stamp on the Four, beginning in 1929 with a restyle (Model 401) and following up with a new five-main-bearing crankshaft. Introduced on June 1st, 1929 on the Model 402, the latter was the biggest single change made to the motor, which retained the Henderson Ace's basic architecture right up to 1936.
Following the debacle of the 'upside-down' Four, Indian reverted to the tried-and-tested 'F-head' (inlet over exhaust) arrangement, adding aluminum cylinder heads and fully enclosed valve gear to the specification. Changes after 1938 were few. Production of the Indian Four, America's last four-cylinder motorcycle, ceased in 1942.
One of the world's most beautiful and collectible motorcycles, this Indian Four was bought from champion hill climber/Indian dealer Clem Murdaugh of West Chester, PA. It is non-standard in certain respects, the front forks (fitted around 1953) being from a 1950 Chief while the engine has been over-bored to accept pistons from a 45ci Scout, resulting in a capacity of approximately 84.4ci (1,383cc). The machine is offered with Certificate of Title.