The Classic Indian Motorcycle History of the Marque: 1901 to 1953 | Review

The Classic Indian Motorcycle History of the Marque: 1901 to 1953 | Rider's LibraryAmong motorcycle marques that have been featured in motorcycle history books, there are probably three that dominate the amount of ink devoted to them: Harley-Davidson, Triumph and Indian.

Triumph and Indian are brands that saw the end of their original production runs and have been resurrected by acquisition; Triumph by John Bloor in 1983; Indian by several hopefuls and most recently by Polaris Industries in April 2011.

We have taken a look at a couple of the books about the history of the Indian brand here, among them:

Holmstrom’s book covers Indian Motorcycles history right up to the 2015 model year, while Hatfield and Halberstadt’s book, which came out in 1996 covers the brand from its bicycle-building beginnings in 1882 through its demise in 1953 and a brief description of the revival attempts through 1994.

John Carroll and Garry Stuart’s latest book, The Classic Indian Motorcycle History of the Marque: 1901 to 1953, is another excellent pre-Polaris history of the Indian brand that came out in 1996. Picking up the story of the company’s development with the completion of its first motocycle (Indian’s own original spelling) in 1901, the book tells the Indian story in five chapters that each cover a decade and ends with a synopsis of short-lived revival attempts through 1994 and a look at what the future may hold beyond them.

Carroll’s narrative is illustrated with 120-color images that feature some beautifully photographed classic models such as the 1920 Powerplus, 1925 Prince, 1938 Indian Four, 1943 841 military, 1951 Warrior, 1947 Chief and others including some racing versions and customs.

Carroll recalls Indian’s glory years as well as the post-WWII cost and quality problems that plagued the company until its collapse in 1953.

Book data:

  • Title: The Classic Indian Motorcycle History of the Marque 1901 to 1953
  • Author: John Carroll, photographs by Garry Stuart
  • Published: 1996
  • Publisher: Salamander Books, Ltd., 129-137 York Way, London N7 9LG, United Kingdom.
  • ISBN: 0-517-15950-3

Not to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature in Rider’s Library may be out of print and some may be difficult to find. That could be half the fun. The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet. They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on.