Engine: Overhead-valve 4-stroke vertical twin
Displacement: 26 cubic inches (440cc)
Ignition: Magneto, battery and generator
Brakes: Expanding shoe front and rear
Transmission: 4-speed chain drive
Owner: Greg Easly
The search for the perfect deal on a classic bike can often take years.
But, on very rare occasions, all you need is an afternoon.
Consider the tale of this 1949 440cc Indian Scout, owned by Greg Easly and previously on display in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio.
Easly wasn’t even looking for bargains when he and a bunch of buddies were on a motorcycle tour in Canada. The group stopped in a town to eat breakfast, and that’s where they saw the sign for an estate auction.
His buddies wanted to go to search for antiques. Easly, with little interest but nothing else to do, tagged along. And while poking around amid the furniture, garden tools and kitchen appliances, he discovered something really worthwhile: this bike.
Easly waited until the bike came up for bid, hoping for the best. The only other person bidding dropped out quickly, and, he says, “I stole it.”
All he had to do after getting it home to Kingsport, Tennessee, was polish it.
What he wound up with is a fine example of a machine that Easly jokes “was one of the motorcycles that actually put Indian out of business.”
Indian’s little Dyna-Torque vertical twin engines had a formidable job when they were launched in 1949 to save the faltering company. Execs were seeing stiff competition at the time from lightweight BSAs and Triumphs imported from Britain. Indian’s answer was the 440cc Scout and the 220cc single-cylinder Arrow, which were offered alongside the only other bike in the line-up, the 1,200cc V-twin Chief.
Launched amid a marketing flurry that included publicity shots of movie stars and football players aboard Indians, the motorcycles were met with marketplace indifference. Worse, the ones that did sell earned a reputation for being unreliable.
It was just what Indian didn’t need at a time when the devalued British pound made the competing imports even cheaper in the States. Already teetering on collapse, Indian continued its death spiral until it ceased motorcycle production in 1953.