A rare Indian motorcycle is set to turn heads at auction later this month.

The 1939 Indian Four motorcycle could go for as much as $120,000 when it crosses the block at Shannons Autumn auction on April 30.

Why so much?

Because of its outstanding condition, provenance and ‘world-market’ appeal, says Shannons.

Indian is one of the three great American motorcycle brands, along with Harley-Davidson and Excelsior-Henderson – the latter did not survive.

Originally based on the Ace motorcycle design that Indian bought when it bought the Ace Motor Corporation in 1927, the four-cylinder Indian Four was built from 1928 to 1942.

It featured a stronger twin-downtube frame, a sturdier five-bearing crankshaft, trailing-link forks and quarter-elliptic leaf spring suspension.

The Four was discontinued with the rest of civilian production in 1942 and was not produced again after the Second War ended.

The historical significance of the 1940 four-cylinder model was recognised with the US Postal Service 39-cent stamp issue in August 2006, part of a four-panel set called American Motorcycles

A 1941 model is also part of the Smithsonian Motorcycle Collection on display at the National Museum of American History.

The Indian was of course the motorcycle of choice for New Zealander Burt Munro who rode a highly modified Scout to numerous land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1960s. 

In 2014 Indian had a similar custom streamliner built, the Spirit of Munro, to promote their new 111 cubic-inch engine and challenge speed records.

The Indian Four coming to auction is a lovely, matching number 1939 model fitted with the desirable magneto option.

Offering an ‘old school’ ride, the fully restored and mechanically rebuilt Indian is presented impeccably in the famous World Fair factory colour combination of metallic Santaupe and cream, with a contrasting brown saddle.

The 1265cc inlet over exhaust valve engine has been rebuilt with new pistons, valves and valve springs, the main bearing has been completely overhauled, and there’s a new clutch and new transmission gears.

You can checkout the Indian Four as well as other motorcycles and cars coming up here

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.