1946 Indian Chief with Indian Sidecar

1946 Indian Chief with Indian Sidecar

The final “skirted fender” Indian Chief is a proven American Classic, a very lasting design which has always epitomized the Indian brand.

Indian released the Indian Chief in 1922, twenty years after they began manufacturing. It is probably their most widely known design, famous for the streamlined skirted fenders and fuel and oil tanks it received in 1940. But the 1930’s designs were just as remarkable. Sideacars were always offered by Indian, and this final streamlined design is a great compliment to the overall styling of the Chief.

Chiefs originally displaced 61 cubic inches, were enlarged to 74 cubic inches in 1923, then to 80 cubic inches in 1950 near the end of production which was in 1953. Telescopic hydraulic forks were added in 1950, a year after they showed up on Harley’s big EL’s and FL’s. While Harley-Davidson developed their overhead valve twin for the 1936 model year, Indian seemed to focus on styling and got a little behind in engine design, sticking with the flathead twin till the end.

Famed Indian design engineer Charles Franklin penned the Chief as a larger version of the very successful Scout. It became Indian’s biggest seller.

For about 15 years up until 1940, E. Paul DuPont owned Indian, and paint colors offered reflect the DuPont paint company’s wide array of offerings. Dubbed “The Heavy Duty Plugger” in some literature of the time, the Chief was ideal for sidecar use. Indian offered the very stylish sidecar, color matched.

This sidecar rig is loaned for display by Ruth Birk and is part of The Indian Story exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum, one of over 40 Indian motorcycles at the Museum, stock, custom and racing, plus an Indian boat motor.


  • Engine: 74 Cubic Inch, 42 Degree V-Twin
  • Type: Air-Cooled, Side-valve
  • Lubrication: Dry Sump, Pressurized
  • Primary: Triplex Chain
  • Transmission: 3-Speed, Tank Shift
  • Clutch: Wet Multi-plate / Foot Operated
  • Horsepower: 38
  • Frame: Lugged, Tubular Steel
  • Suspension: Girder Fork/Plunger Rear
  • Electrics: 6 Volt Battery/Coil
  • Wheels/Tires: 5.00 x 16 / 5.00 x 16
  • Brakes: Drum, Front and Rear
  • Wheelbase: 62 Inches
  • Weight: 575 Pounds + Sidecar
  • Top Speed: 85 MPH


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  1. Bob Seldon

    Thank you for sharing these excellent photos of this lovely classic! In this day of look-alike motorcycle design, it is a treat to see what stylists of yesterday were able to create…
    Thanks again, I always enjoy your featured motorcycles!

  2. jim votava

    Beautiful rig.one question the ‘spec sheet’ lists a chain primary drive. I thought indians used a gear primary. (?) thanx jv in mke

  3. Jukka Konola

    Terrific Indian motorcycle and sidecar outfit. Thanks for bringing it back to life Art. Would like to know where you got the beautiful Chumee seat and fender rack. Would love to add a sidecar to my Springfield Blue 2014 Chief.
    Thanks again,
    Juk (Yook)

  4. James Elg

    We have a collection of two Indian Chief Motorcycles. One has a sidecar with the Indian Chief. 1946. Dean and Jay Leno in one picture and Steve the owner of the bike and Dean both in a picture of him buying the bike. The other bike is a Army 1943 Military Shaft Drive. Let me know if anyone knows anyone that might be interested in these beautiful bikes. Thanks James 208 534 8518

  5. Bob Roseman

    I recently bought a red 1946 Chief with a sidecar. It’s my first bike and a blast to ride. It’s all original sheet metal and paint.
    It has a few dings but nothing major. I don’t have the fairing and I have the original style seat. It gets a lot of attention.

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