This stunning motorcycle from 1947 is for sale

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

The new, revamped Indian brand, purchased by Polaris Industries in 2011, is getting great reviews lately.

Working in the company’s favor is undoubtedly an inherited back-catalog of beautiful two wheeled machines from the oldest motorcycle label in America – the favored brand of legendary actor and speed enthusiast Steve McQueen. And their new bikes are unashamedly pursuing some of that old magic.

But for a real original, auction house RM Sotheby’s is offering a stunning 1947 Chief Roadmaster at their annual Detroit auction on July 30. And it’s a looker.

The Chief, the only pre-war model to continue after the Second World War, was critical for the company, at the time struggling after failing to secure contracts to build bikes for the US Army. But while the name was old, Indian added plenty of new features to the Chief, including the signature flared fenders and chrome detailing.

It also installed innovative dual plunger-type rear suspension which in the forties provided a much better ride quality and handling than the competition could offer; Harley-Davidsons of the era were still completely unsprung.

Estimated price at auction: $20,000 to $30,000.


The 1947 Indian Chief Roadmaster for sale next month in Detroit.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

According to the auction house, the bike has remained in the same family since 1975.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

The current owners had the bike lovingly restored in 1998 — at the time, it was still wearing its original tires.

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Darin Schnabel/RM Sotheby’s

It has since been sparingly used.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

The 74 cubic inch V-twin engine provides an estimated 40 horsepower.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

In the 1930’s, Indian added the iconic “head-dress” to the front fender. All models (including today’s) still wear this detail.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

The flared fenders were introduced in the 40’s, as was then-innovative dual plunger-type suspension.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

Many of the lines and details of this bike are borrowed on today’s Indian models.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

The bike is “sure to attract an admiring crowd” wherever it is shown, RM Sotheby’s said.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s

Estimated price: $20,000 to $30,000.

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Darin Schnabel/ RM Sotheby’s