~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Sound Of An Indian 4 Cylinder Engine

Back in the early 1980's I was shopping for a house. At one place the realtor showed us I found an unrestored Indian 4 cylinder motorcycle setting in the garage. I casually asked the owner of the house if the bike was part of the deal (would have clinched it for me right there) but he said "No. And I know what the bike is worth." Ah well.

Several years ago while visiting my father in California we went over to his best buddy's house and there in the garage with the Packards and other classic cars was another unrestored Indian Four. Johnny said somewhere along the way he'd picked it up for $600. I quickly offered him the golden opportunity to double his money by selling it to me for $1200. He politely declined even when I raised the offer to $1800, triple what he'd paid for the bike. Hard to imagine what he was thinking when he declined my generous offer...

One of the special joys at a vintage event is when someone takes the time and trouble to fire up a show bike. At the recent vintage and antique motorcycle show the owner of a beautifully restored 1941 Indian 441 Indian Four fired up the bike for spectators. I quickly flipped my digital still camera to movie mode and grab a few seconds of the wonderful sound. Lots of people have heard OF the Indian Four, many have seen one, but fewer have actually heard one running. Imagine it's 1941 and the vast majority of bikes are rigidly mounted, blatting V-twins and popping, bone shaking singles. The sound of the Indian must have seemed as exotic as the Ducati Desmodici does to us today. There were other four cylinder bikes before the Indian but none seem to have ever attained the absolute legendary status of the Indian 441 . 65+ years later the big Indian still draws a crowd. To ride this bike in America in 1941 was to be king of the road:


Camron said...

Thank you for sharing. I love the sensory assault of the old nostalgic bikes, the sight, the sound, the feel... even the smell is a little different. Good luck finding one of your own.

Anonymous said...

Very cool. Thanks.

Crusty said...

Sweet bike...I spent many an afternoon drooling over the old Indians at the Indian Motorcycle Museum (Springfield, MA) Sad to say even that is gone now! I hear they are opening up a new display devoted to antique transportation somewhere near the old museum that will have some of the bikes on display. -Crusty

Ronman said...

Wow.......thanks for the living history lesson....sweet!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this, I love the vintage bikes and look forward to attending a vintage race, and swap meet here in Ohio in a couple months

FLHX_Dave said...

I don't know a whole lot about vintage bikes. A vintage bike to me is a Yamaha Seca 550, my first bike. Still learning and the more I learn the more I appreciate. Thanks for the help in that process. Wow, never really heard anything like that. I turned up the woofer on my speakers and listened to it several times. I guess Indian is back online putting out the Chief in 2009? Thanks for the ear candy.

Doug Klassen said...

I'm glad you guys have enjoyed the sound and video. The poor mic in my digital camera really does not do the sound justice but you get an idea anyway. After listening to the sound several times I realized that it reminded me a great deal of a more aircraft engine sort of sound, like four cylinders taken from an Allison V-12 and less like the four cylinder engines we are used to today.


FLHX_Dave said...

I'm glad you said it sounded like an aircraft engine. I thought the same thing, but didn't want to look like an airhead.

Popular Posts

Search This Site

"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison