Indian introduced the Chief in 1922 to replace its popular Power Plus series. In 1923, the engine was increased from 61 to 74 cubic inches to capitalize on the sidecar market. Riders enjoyed the larger displacement for solo use, and both engines were marketed simultaneously until the latter part of the ‘20s. Around 1928, the 61 CI engine was dropped with the advent of the 101 Scout. As Indian climbed out of the aftershocks of the Great Depression, the Chief once again became a big seller. Because of Indian’s involvement with the DuPont family, a wide variety of colors were available, contrasted with the mono color schemes of other manufacturers.
In 1940, Indian introduced the skirted fender on their product line, which would become Indian’s hallmark, along with the Indian-head light on the front fender. The motorcycle company was still using leaf-spring style front forks. With the onset of World War II, all production was switched to wartime contracts. Both the Chief and the Scout lost their skirted fenders. However, in 1946, the newer version came out, again fitted with skirts and a plunger rear suspension.
In 1946, Indian President Ralph B. Rogers decided to streamline the product line, only offering the Chief, and had even pondered dropping or selling the Indian line. Indian was not on good economic footing. The 1946 models used an adaptation of the 841 Indian’s girder fork, with the new versions now having a hydraulic dampener. This unit had 4-inches more travel than the leaf-spring girder and was extremely comfortable to ride. The plunger rear became standard. Because of other production problems, only about 6,500 units were built in 1946, all despite a pent up demand for motorcycles after the war. The engines were all 74 cubic inches.
This particular 1946 Indian Chief appears to be an older restoration that has aged well. The only reproduction parts used were tires and exhaust.
Arrangements to purchase this vehicle can be made directly by contacting Mecum representative Rob Williams by phone or text at (262) 236-7705 or by email at email@example.com.