c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle Engine no. 76R244

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Lot 177
c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. 76R244

Sold for US$ 150,000 inc. premium
c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. 76R244
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 61cu in (990cc) 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.

In September 1919 the Powerplus racer appeared with a new Harley-style frame, open at the bottom, that used the engine as a stressed member. A revised ‘Daytona’ version of this frame was introduced the following year featuring top tubes and steering head lowered by an inch or two to achieve a lower saddle position. Readily recognized by its ‘S’ shaped seat tube, the Daytona frame quickly became the Indian factory racers’ favorite.

As a famous Indian aficionado – the Milwaukee bikes were his favorite marque – Steve McQueen just had to have an example of the fabulous Daytona-framed Powerplus in his collection, to which this example does more than adequate justice.

Saleroom notices

  • Steve Wright restored this machine for Steve McQueen. Wright acquired this rare example from well-known Indian dealer and collector Herbert Webb of Roanoke Virginia.
c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle Engine no. 76R244
c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle Engine no. 76R244
c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle Engine no. 76R244
c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle Engine no. 76R244
c.1920 Indian Powerplus ‘Daytona’ Racing Motorcycle Engine no. 76R244
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