1942 Indian Four

Jump to Images

From 1928-1942, Indian built a 4-cylinder motorcycle based on the Ace Four from Ace Motorcycle Company. Indian purchased the troubled company in 1927, and marketed the motorcycle as the Indian Ace for a year before dropping the Ace name.

Indian continued to improve the design over the years, replacing the three-bearing crankshaft with a five-bearing one, and in 1940 plunger rear suspension was added. Of course, the new bikes were redesigned visually to look like Indians, including the addition of the large draped fender look, also in 1940, which is today the most recognizable feature of Indian motorcycles.

1942 was the last year of the Four. Never a big seller during the Depression, the company saw them as flagship products that reflected well on the entire Indian line. This particular Four was the first one off the production line for this, the very last year.

This bike will be sold by Mecum Auctions in Monterey, California on August 18-20, 2016, right before the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21.

---- Specifications ----
Price -- Production --
Engine 1.3 liter inline-4 Weight --
Aspiration natural Torque --
HP -- HP/Weight --
HP/Liter -- 1/4 mile --
0-62 mph -- Top Speed 100 mph

(from Mecum Auctions Press Release) 1942 Indian Four

  • Restored
  • First one off the production line in the final year of Indian Four Cylinder production
  • Previously owned by R. Desaussure, Californa
  • Frame # 440807
  • Engine # DDB101
  • Key included

After William Henderson sold his fiscally troubled Henderson Motorcycle Company to Schwinn in 1917, his 4-cylinder passion re-emerged as the Ace Motorcycle Company. The first Ace Four was offered for the 1920 season and retained much of the Henderson’s features including the 'F-head' inlet-over-exhaust valve gear. Breathing improvements made the Ace the fastest production motorcycle in the world that year with a 90 MPH top speed, but sales were not so fast for the expensive machine; the company got a flat in 1924.

Indian purchased the Ace name, rights and tooling in January 1927, and produced the ‘Indian-Ace’ for 1928, which was basically the same machine painted red. Within a year, Indian enlarged the motor to 1260cc with stronger internals and restyled the machine to fit the rest of the company’s line. The Model 401 of late 1928 kept the Ace frame, but the Model 402 of June 1929 had a new all-Indian twin down-tube frame, Indian’s signature leaf-spring fork, and a tank-fender combo very much like the Chief. The engine got a 5-bearing crankshaft, which increased reliability, and this ‘Ace type’ engine carried on until mid-1935 when the ‘upside-down’ Four was introduced with its exhaust-over-inlet motor, which was not well loved even though it had more power. A rapid redesign meant a new engine for 1938, with a return to inlet-over-exhaust configuration for the Model 438. The cylinders and heads were cast in pairs with removable cylinder heads in aluminum; this increased the finning area, which helped the engine run cooler, and produce more horsepower—proven by the top speed of just more than 100 MPH.

By 1940, the frame was updated to include plunger rear suspension, which increased rider comfort. By now, the wheels were 16 inches rather than the original 18-inch diameter, and the fenders gained their iconic full skirts, one of the most recognizable motorcycle features in history. It’s dubious whether any American company found 4-cylinder motorcycle production profitable; they were complicated and thus expensive to build and to sell but made excellent range-leaders for the Indian line. Indian Fours were popular with police departments with their 100 MPH top speed and ability to dawdle at a walking pace smoothly, making them ideal for both pursuit and parade duties. The advent of World War II meant Indian ceased production of the Four, and the 1942 Model 442 was the final year in that iconic, full-skirted configuration.

Remarkably, this restored 1942 Indian Four carries chassis number 440807—with engine number DDB101—engine serial number 1 for ’42. It was previously owned by collector R. Desaussure in California, and is a historic machine indeed.