1994 Century 1,646cc V-Twin Chief Prototype

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Lot 184
1994 Century 1,646cc V-Twin Chief Prototype

Sold for US$ 6,900 inc. premium
1994 Century 1,646cc V-Twin Chief Prototype
• One of two hand-built prototypes
• In original as-shown condition
• Unique part of Indian motorcycle history
• From the collection of Philip Reed

Almost from the day the original factory was shuttered in 1953, there were many number of attempts to revive the Indian brand. The attempts at its resurrection hit a crescendo in the 1990s, driven by traditional rival Harley-Davidson's skyrocketing sales and a supply of investor money. One of the hopefuls was Wayne Baughman, an Albuquerque car-parts salesman who formed Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Inc. and actually produced two running prototypes, shown to the public, press and interested investors in 1994. Temporarily sidestepping legal battles then raging over rights to the Indian name, Baughman called his machine the Century V-Twin Chief.

The appeal of the original Chief is easy to understand. Has there ever been a more iconic shape in American motorcycling than a skirted Indian? Those big valanced fenders are unmistakable—then as now, they set the bike apart from anything else on the road.

Style-wise, Baughman's neo-Chief interpretation may have been steeped in that history, but technically it had some up-to-date features. The prototype's 60-degree V-twin powerplant was CNC-machined from billet aluminum, running a 100 x 100mm bore-and-stroke for a displacement of 100 cubic inches, or 1646cc. It was a dry-sump, oil-cooled design employing twin radiators. Compression ratio was 10:1. Each cylinder head was fitted with three valves (two intake, one exhaust), their pushrods gear-driven from the crankshaft. Ignition was controlled by an electronic fuel management system. The claim was 98hp at 5,600 rpm, with torque output of 90ft-lb. at 4,300 rpm. The chassis had a 'hard-tail' look but was in fact suspended in the rear by a hidden shock. Final drive was via toothed belt.

With a reported $5 million raised, a new building lined up and 50 dealers worldwide ready to take product, Baughman was ready for the next step. Unfortunately for him and his backers, a court officially awarded the Indian trademarks to another group, and enthusiasm for the Century Chief endeavor quickly deflated.

Following the company's demise, one of the prototypes made its way to the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, while the prototype on offer here ended up in Southern California collection of Philip Reed, noted vintage car collector, longtime Horseless Carriage Club official and nine-time participant in the U.K.'s London-to Brighton run. Indian Motorcycles, meanwhile, is once again a fully going concern, with freshly engineered motors, a multi-model lineup, even a factory racing team. In a path too convoluted to detail here, Indian is now owned by recreational-vehicle giant Polaris Industries and the future looks very bright indeed. It was machines like this Century V-Twin Chief, however, that helped keep enthusiasm for Indian alive and bridged the gap from defunct to dynamic.

Footnotes

  • Offered on a Bill of Sale

    As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, this motorcycle comes with an extra frame, spare engine components, as well as blueprints from the build.
Contacts
1994 Century 1,646cc V-Twin Chief Prototype
1994 Century 1,646cc V-Twin Chief Prototype
1994 Century 1,646cc V-Twin Chief Prototype
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