After largely hiding from the public eye for many years, first as a display piece in a dentist office for 30 years, and then being stored in a garage and a basement, a 1903 Indian motorcycle is now back in the limelight and poised to get a new owner. On April 21 at the Frederick County Fairgrounds, Maryland, eager bidders will line up to own this piece of two-wheeled history from the estate of Charles Alder, Jr..
“This motorcycle predates the Harley – the bike most Americans associate with homegrown motorcycles,” said Indian restoration specialist Steve Rinker. “The handful of 1902 Indian models that were built were deconstructed, their parts used to build the 1.75-horsepower 1903 models. And as far as we know, this is the only un-restored 1903 still in existence.”
As with the other most valuable motorcycles in the world, when it comes to drawing the highest dollar at auction, it’s the ‘patina’ that counts.
“What makes this bike particularly intriguing is that it’s never been restored. Except for a few nuts and bolts used for early repairs, this bike is all original,” said auctioneer Josh Ruby. “This is one of the most primitive motorized vehicles you’ll ever see – a real peek into what innovation looked like over a hundred years ago.”
What kind of price will it bring? That, it appears, is anyone’s guess.
Auctioneer Ruby says he has no idea what sort of interest the bike will draw from bidders – and less of an idea what kind of price it might ultimately bring in.
“This motorcycle hasn’t been sold since the 1950′s. The last time it changed hands outside of the family was during a barter for $50 of construction work by Charlie’s dad – before the bike was considered to have collectable value. So, it will be exciting for all of us, as those bids come in,” Ruby said.
One of the first bikes badged as an “Indian,” this 1903 Indian was one of the first built by The Hendee Mfg. Co. of Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s actually closer to being a bicycle with its single-cylinder engines bolted onto a bicycle frame, and that stands to reason as George Hendee, a high-wheel bicycle racing champion of the day, was the man behind the company. The Indian marque first came to prominence after taking the gold medal in an early endurance race in the United States.
If you want to own this piece of motorcycle history – and you happen to have a serious ton of money – online bidding will be handled by proxibid.com, and you can see the full details about the machine at wolfeauctions.com.