1949 Indian Silver Arrow
Following World War II, Indian was sure the world was poised for a motorcycling boom. And the next big thing seemed to be lightweight machines, like those being built by Triumph and BSA. So Indian abandoned its successful V-twin Scouts and staked its future on a new line of modular motors-a single, a vertical twin and an inline four, all sharing internal parts.
The Arrow was the base of that line, powered by a single-cylinder 218cc overhead-valve engine, while the new Scout was built around a 436cc twin.
The performance of the new Indians may have been appropriate for all those hoped-for new motorcyclists, but the Arrow and Scout hardly satisfied Indian’s loyal following brought up on 750cc-plus performance. In addition, the bikes cost more to build than expected, especially with many of them experiencing warranty problems. It was even rumored that Indian lost money on every machine sold.
In the end, Indian had to give up plans to build the new four, and borrow even more heavily just to sustain its lineup, all the while waiting for the expected sales boom that would save it.
Eventually, that boom did arrive, and it swelled into the motorcycle flood of the ’60s. But by then, Indian had already succumbed to its long-standing financial problems and gone out of business.
The motorcycle offered
The 1949 Indian Silver Arrow on offer here was purchased by an Indian collector and knowledgeable enthusiast from the Jim Sutter collection about 20 years ago. Restored by Bob Stark to exacting standards and original specification, the bike has covered only 4.2 miles since.