1928 Indian Chief  Frame no. CH152
Lot 287
1928 Indian Chief Engine no. CH152
Sold for US$ 46,800 inc. premium
Lot Details
1928 Indian Chief
Engine no. CH152
Entering the 1920's, Indian was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. The company's most successful motorcycle to date was the diminutive 37 cubic inch Scout. The Scout shared a similar side-valve engine configuration to the existing 61ci Powerplus but included numerous refinements to the engine and chassis.

The first Indian Chief was introduced for the 1922 model year and was designed to compete against the larger motorcycles offered by several of the competitors, and provide an able sidecar machine. The most important advancement of the new 61ci Chief was the motor used a separate cam to operate both intake and exhaust valves for each cylinder. The new Chief utilized one-piece cylinders and heads but gained separate cylinders and heads for 1927. Like the Scout, the new Chief joined the three speed sliding gear transmission with the engine through an aluminum cast primary case. Helical cut gears transmitted the power from the crankshaft to the transmission and were lubricated by oil common to the transmission case. Although the helical gears were more expensive to manufacture and emitted more noise than a chain primary drive, they were oil tight and absolutely bullet proof.

The new Chief engine was placed into a double tube cradle frame and rigidly secured by two points at the front of the frame and a single point at the rear of the transmission, an advancement that would last until the end of Chief production some 30 years later. Front suspension used a robust form of Indian's leaf spring forks originally debuted in 1910.

Feeling competition from upstart rival Harley-Davidson who were already marketing a 74ci overhead valve engine, Indian decided to up the ante for the following year. The Big Chief of 1923 boasted a new 74ci engine through increases in both bore and stroke of the engine. The boost in engine size increased top speed to about 70mph. The plan worked. The new Big Chief quickly became the best seller of the Indian offerings for both private riders and for the lucrative police force contracts.

This Indian features front brakes, a mid-year refinement. It has a full electrical system, with head and tail lights, tank mounted ammeter, and a Splitdorf DU-7 generator. It also has a period rear luggage carrier, mirror and handlebar mounted horn.

This motorcycle is believed to be from the collection of the late actor, Steve McQueen. McQueen was an enthusiastic motorcyclist and competitor, and became an ardent collector during the 1970's. This is an opportunity to own a piece of American culture as well as part of American motorcycle history.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this bike is titled under its engine number
Lot symbols
  1. Motor Cars (US)
    Auction Administration - Motorcycles
    Work +1 415 391 4000
    FaxFax: +1 415 391 4040