Motor City

30 July 2016

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Lot 104

1947 Indian Chief Roadmaster

  • Engine no. CDG8768

Sold for $38,500


Est. 40 hp, 74 cu. in. air-cooled side-valve V-twin engine, three-speed manual transmission, girder front forks, plunger-type rear suspension, and two-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 61 in.

  • Offered from single-family ownership since 1975
  • Beautifully restored in 1998; properly maintained since
  • The ultimate year of the original Indian Chief


The 1940 model year was significant in the history of Indian motorcycles, with the addition of skirted front and rear fenders on all of its models, a feature that remains emblematic of the Indian line today. Mechanically, the Chief and Four models also received a new frame with an innovative dual plunger-type rear suspension as opposed to the decidedly low-tech unsprung rear wheels and large, low-pressure tires relied upon by Harley-Davidson. Based on a remarkably solid large-tube frame, the updated Indian models continued to build on the marque’s well-deserved reputation for smoothness and excellent handling.

While Indian was ultimately unsuccessful in its bid to become the major supplier of motorcycles to the United States Army, it did supply many military-specification motorcycles to other Allied armies and domestic police departments during World War II. Following the end of hostilities, the Indian model line consisted solely of the V-twin Chief in order to meet the pent-up demand for new motorcycles, as well as to conserve funds for the development of a new model line. In 1945, under a change of ownership led by Ralph Rogers, Indian was purchased from DuPont and they began development on a new line of motorcycles patterned after the popular British singles. Then, in 1948, the historic Springfield, Massachusetts, factory – affectionately known as the “Wigwam” – was closed in favor of a new facility.

This Indian Chief Roadmaster was acquired by the current family in 1975, when the owner’s father purchased the top-of-the-line Roadmaster from Herb Sweet of Chateaugay, New York. At the time, the Indian was described as being in restored condition when Sweet purchased the motorcycle the previous year from Leola A. Vasile in Auburn, New York. According to registration records on file, Vasile appears to have purchased the Indian from Glenn E. Thorpe of Seneca Falls in 1973. After lovingly riding the motorcycle for over 20 years, the Indian was restored once more in 1998 by Rocky’s Antique Cycle Parts in Massillon, Ohio. Work included replacement of the original tires, repair of some minor issues, and painting of the gas tank and fenders. Subsequent to its restoration, the Roadmaster has been maintained and sparingly ridden, and it still presents in excellent condition throughout.

Offered from single-family ownership for the past 40 years, this exceptional 1947 Chief Roadmaster offers the very quality, style, and history that the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company placed its reputation on. It is sure to attract an admiring crowd wherever it is shown and ridden . . . with pride.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more