1929 Indian-Crocker 45ci Overhead-Valve Conversion Engine no. GB OHV 01

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Lot 117
1929 Indian-Crocker 45ci Overhead-Valve Conversion
Engine no. GB OHV 01

Sold for US$ 64,350 inc. premium
1929 Indian-Crocker 45ci Overhead-Valve Conversion
Engine no. GB OHV 01
Created by master bike-builder Gwen Banquer, this motorcycle is an Indian 101 Scout fitted with a copy of Al Crocker’s famous overhead-valve conversion kit. It is the first one sold of a limited series of only seven such machines, the construction of which commenced circa 1995/96.

A legend among American motorcycles, the Crocker has assumed almost mythic status since the last one left the Los Angeles factory sixty-five years ago. Only 60-or-so twin-cylinder Crocker street bikes were ever made, each one unique, and today these hand-built masterpieces are among the most collectible motorcycles of all time.

A successful enduro racer on Thor motorcycles, Albert G Crocker took over the Denver Indian agency in 1913. He moved on to manage the Indian branch office in Kansas City before finally settling in Los Angeles, California in 1928 as agent for the Springfield manufacturer. Aided by gifted engineer Paul ‘P A’ Bigsby, Al Crocker moved into motorcycle manufacture in stages, starting out in 1931 making speedway frames to accept the 45ci (750cc) Indian Scout v-twin engine. An overhead-valve conversion kit for the Scout soon followed, but after more than a year of competition, during which the v-twin speedway racer achieved a measure of success, Crocker was forced to recognize that a single-cylinder engine made more sense for dirt use. After 40-50 single-cylinder speedway Crockers had been built, the project was abandoned and Al Crocker moved onto fulfill another of his ambitions: the construction of a class-leading roadster.

In keeping with the mainstream American tradition, this new model had to be a v-twin, and Crocker’s effort - powered by a 45-degree unit displacing 61ci (1,000cc) - was duly presented to the motorcycling public early in 1936. At the time of its introduction, the Crocker was the only American street twin with overhead valves, although unbeknown to Al Crocker the ohv Harley-Davidson ‘Knucklehead’ was only a few months from production.

Unlike George Brough in England, who relied on proprietary components, albeit of the highest quality, to produce his Brough Superiors, Crocker built almost everything in house, including carburetors, with only items such as magnetos, spark plugs, wheel rims, tires and other accessories being bought in. But unlike George Brough, who had few serious rivals and whose exclusive products commanded a commensurately inflated price, Al Crocker was forced to compete with the much larger Harley-Davidson and Indian. The result was a crippling loss on every machine sold. Al Crocker’s last throw of the dice was the ‘Scootabout’, a stylish motor scooter, around 100-or-so of which were sold before Crocker finally pulled the plug on motorcycle production in 1941. The Crocker star might have burned but briefly, but during the late 1930s it was by far the brightest in the American motorcycling universe.

Crocker’s overhead-valve conversion kit for the 101 Scout started out as an all-cast iron affair before the second series switched to aluminum-alloy for the cylinder heads. Surviving original kits are exceptionally rare, so Gwen Banquer was especially fortunate to acquire (on loan) an original un-machined set of the later alloy/iron type, from which casting patterns were made. It should be noted that, although of ‘stock’ appearance, the Banquer ’heads have more ‘meat’ in the valve seat area to prevent cracking. Most of the rest of this machine - frame, forks, crankcases, transmission, magneto, hubs, brakes and fenders - is genuine c.1929 Indian 101 Scout. The frame has been altered to accommodate the taller overhead-valve engine, enabling removal of the ’heads with the motor in situ, and the fenders cut down, while the gas tank is a reproduction Junior Scout item. Important upgrades include a stronger engine bottom-end incorporating S&S flywheels and H-D Sportster con-rods; Hepolite pistons and a recirculating oil system, the latter achieved using the later Scout/Chief-type oil pump. Other noteworthy features include modified Indian ‘military’ handlebars, rotating-magnet generator and a hand-made exhaust system.

Gwen first displayed a mock-up of his Crocker OHV-converted 101 Scout motor during Daytona Bike Week in March 1996, and by August of the same year the bike had been finished and was running. Gwen rode his first Cocker Scout at Daytona in 1997 and later that year received a 1st place award for ‘Best American Motorcycle 1926-1940’ at the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington. Mike Corbin had seen Glen on that first Crocker conversion at Daytona and told him that he wanted to buy it, thus beginning a great friendship between the two men. Indeed, Corbin was so impressed with the bike that he immediately commissioned Gwen to build him a speedway version.

Gwen Banquer’s Indian-Crocker OHVs have featured in magazines the world over and also in John Carroll’s book, Classic American Motorcycles. Presented in immaculate condition, the machine offered here represents an exciting opportunity to acquire the first example of one of the most celebrated motorcycle re-creations of modern times. Not run since purchased, it is offered with 1998 bill of sale, condition report and New Hampshire Certificate of Title.
1929 Indian-Crocker 45ci Overhead-Valve Conversion Engine no. GB OHV 01
1929 Indian-Crocker 45ci Overhead-Valve Conversion Engine no. GB OHV 01
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