1999 Kawasaki Drifter 1500cc
Frame no. JKBVNAJ14XA000050
Engine no. VNT50AE073135
How ironic is it that of all the recent Indian Chief revivals, this version from Japan might just be the best motorcycle? The Drifter series, sold by Kawasaki from 1999 to 2006, was inspired by a magazine project bike. Back in 1996, former racer Don Emde, whose father Floyd was an Indian icon, teamed with "Rider" magazine and aftermarket outfit Cobra Engineering to create the "Super Chief." This used a modern liquid-cooled, fuel-injected Kawasaki cruiser V-twin cloaked in skirted fenders and other retro accoutrements to come up with a very convincing 1940s Indian Chief lookalike.
After the magazine article hit, response was so positive that Kawasaki borrowed the bike for evaluation and decided to put the concept into production, as both a 1500 and 800. This particular first-year Drifter 1500, number 50 off the assembly line, was used for press functions before being sold to one of Cobra's co-founders. It has remained in his personal collection ever since and has covered just 1100 miles from new. It wears an optional studded saddle and front running lights; the sale includes an unworn Drifter jacket presented to editors and other VIPs at the model's press launch.