Friday, January 17, 2014

Ran When Parked

1945 W.P.B. approved civilian Indian Chief -There were very few Chief built in 1945 because of the war. The War Production Board (W.P.B.) allowed Indian to make very few civilian motorcycles in the later war years. I’ve Harleys built during this era but this is the first Indian I recall seeing. You had to order one from your dealer and apply to the W.P.B. with a very good reason for needing one. Typically they went to police or fire departments, mailmen or critical fleet roles. These essential use bikes were also considered civilian, not military. Still they were built with open rather than skirted fenders, probably to conserve critical metal for the war effort. I’ve always preferred the style of the open fender Indians to the skirted ones. Having the some of the later bike benefits with the open fenders is pretty appealing to me. Pretty cool little slice of history.

The W.P.B. approved Harleys are fascinating to see in person. They are entirely de-chromed. Nearly every rubber piece (floorboards, kicker pedal, grips, etc.) is substituted with plastic or simply omitted. Even the badges and trim are a painted on facade. The ones I've seen are painted very subtle colors (most were probably repainted in police or fire department trim anyway).  Ironically I'm very fond of the bling free de-chromed Knucklehead look.

1 comment:

Flathead45 said...

That Chief is pretty. Interesting to note that the Indian 841 fork made its way onto Chiefs, but not until '46.

Vintage Cycles Northwest in Spanaway houses the late John Burgin's amazing motorcycle collection, including every year of Knucklehead built. A good place to check out the rare essential use Knucks. Some of the Cossacks have stamped metal footboards; this was another feature of the wartime rubber shortage.