Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, America's oldest and iconic motorcycle brand, was founded as the Hendee Manufacturing Company by George M. Hendee and C. Oscar Hedstrom in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1901, two years before Harley Davidson Motor Company.
Hendee and Hedstrom were both motorcycle racers, Hendee having been the "high wheel" champion.
E. Paul du Pont bought Indian Motorcycle in March, 1930, and took over as president. By this time, the company was in severe need of smart management, and du Pont rose to the challenge. E. Paul du Pont led a purge of corruption in the prior management, and turned the company around. According to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Ohio, du Pont saved Indian from financial ruin.
In 1940, Indian sold nearly as many motorcycles as its major rival, Harley Davidson.
Indian represented the only true American-made heavyweight cruiser alternative to Harley Davidson in those times.
The company went on to manufacture other products such as aircraft engines, bicycles, boat motors and air conditioners. Manufacture of all products was halted in 1953.
The most popular models were the Scout, made prior to WWII, and the Chief, which had its heyday from 1946-53 (although 1949 production was extremely limited).
The company went back into manufacturing in 1999 with a newer version of the Scout, and also produced Chief and Spirit models. These bikes were based on off-the-shelf engine parts that were based on the venerable Harley Davidson design, but nearing the completion of an all-new engine design, the company succumbed to bankruptcy again in late 2003 after a major deal fell through.
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