One of the most interesting eras of the Indian motorcycle company saga is the Floyd Clymer and Alan Newman ownership period from 1963 to 1977. Those who are only familiar with Indian motorcycles from 1953 and earlier and from 1999 to the present will think of Indians as big-inch V-twins.
However, Clymer saved the name from the dustbin of history by importing minicycles built by Italjet Moto in Italy and slapping the Indian name on the tank. These little dirt bikes were relatively popular and were the first motorcycles of many young riders at the time. The Indian Papoose of the 1960s got the ball rolling, and Newman took over the brand in 1970 after Clymer died.
Newman moved production to Taiwan, using Italian motors up to 175cc. Like Clymer, Newman dreamed of producing a large-displacement Indian. A prototype Indian 900 was built in 1974, with Italjet’s Leo Tartarini running the project bike. The ill-fated motorcycle was powered by an 860cc Ducati L-twin.
Although nothing came of the Indian 900, Newman was still actively courting new Indian dealers in 1974. Below is the text of a pitch that Newman sent to prospective dealers. We’re producing the text for you, without corrections, and preserving most of the original format while saving you from excessive typewriter-induced all-caps.
If you were a dealer in 1974 and this showed up in the mail, would you have gone for it?
The Indian Story
The 16 Questions Most Frequently Asked
Who is the Indian motorcycle company?
An American company formed in 1970.
Why the Indian name?
The original Indian Motorcycle Company was the pioneer and foremost motorcycle company in America. It is this spirit which most befits the modern day Indian Motorcycle Company.
Where are Indian dealers located?
Indian dealers are located in all fifty states of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America, and is expanding internationally world wide.
Where is the Indian Motorcycle Company located?
The Indian corporate headquarters is in Beverly Hills, California, USA, and operates its own Engineering, Parts, Service and Warehousing facilities in Gardena, California. The production facilities are located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
How large is the Indian factory?
Indian’s present factory occupies approximately 100,000 square feet. A new addition to the factory will result in a quarter of a million square feet and construction will begin on this new addition in 1975.
What is the production capability of the factory?
The present factory has a capacity to assemble 72,000 units per year and produce 120,000 engines per year. Upon completion of the new addition, the total estimated production will be 200,000 motorcycles per year.
What is the position of Indian in the market?
Today Indian is the seventh largest motorcycle company in unit sales and is the fastest growing company in the motorcycle field in the United States.
How does the price of an Indian motorcycle compare with the competition?
Indian motorcycles are priced competitively with the Japanese manufacturers and considerably less than the European manufacturers.
Can a younger company compete with its more established competitors?
Yes. A younger company is generally more aggressive and not bound by precedents. Also, motorcycles are Indian’s only business, unlike some of its competitors which are divisions of larger corporate structures.
Why should a motorcycle dealer choose Indian over the competition?
Indian is the best investment for the dealer’s money. An Indian Dealership requires less than one third of the cost of the smallest Japanese motorcycle dealership yet the average Indian dealer sells more motorcycles.
What about parts and service?
The Indian motorcycle company in cooperation with the Xerox Corporation has designed a computer system which can determine instantly “order points and inventory” to assess parts requirements before shortages occur. Our technical service department is constantly working to improve the efficiency of the dealer’s service department.
What about advertising?
Indian is continuously advertising in enthusiast magazines such
As Cycle, Cycle Guide, Cycle World, Minicycle, Cycle News, and in general recreational magazines such as Trailer Life, Boys’ Life, and Camping Journal. In addition, Indian has embarked on a regional billboard and newspaper campaign and national television advertising on ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ and ‘Treasure Hunt’ shows.
What is Indian’s present product range?
Indian today makes ten models ranging from Minicycles, Lightweight Trail Bikes and dual purpose Street/Trail machines. Present engine capacity ranges include 50cc, 75cc, 100cc, 125cc, and 175cc.
What will Indian’s product range be in the near future?
Indian is now tooling up for a 250cc single to be introduced in 1975 and plans to offer a 350cc engine in 1976 and a 500cc in 1977.
What about advanced production?
The Research and Development Department of Indian is dedicated to the proposition that the modern day motorcycle is still in its early stages of development. Since the Indian Motorcycle Company is continuing to add new models into production it is not tied down to existing ideas and existing tooling.
What does Indian expect of its dealers?
Indian expects its dealers to be as enthusiastic as it is about the importance of service to its customers and in their belief of growth through hard work and innovative know-how.
Photography courtesy of Mecum Auctions