1. 1903 Indian "Camelback" Single

  2. 1903 Indian "Camelback" Single

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  23. 1903 Indian "Camelback" Single

Lot Number
34
From The Allen Smith Collection of Significant Motorcycles
1903 Indian "Camelback" Single


Offered Without Reserve

ESTIMATE: $125,000 - $175,000
CHASSIS NO: 392
• Historic as the first Indian chain-drive production model; extremely rare
• Museum-worthy example of the world’s fastest motorcycle for 1903
• Stunning restoration by vintage motorcycle expert Brad Wilmarth
• Scored 99.75 points at Antique Motorcycle Club of America Nationals

213 cc air-cooled single-cylinder Hedstrom engine, Hedstrom automatic carburetor, 1 ¾ HP, direct chain drive, steel diamond-type frame with single downtube, coaster brake; wheelbase: 48”


Rooted in George Hendee’s bicycle factory, the Hendee Manufacturing Company established in 1889, a meeting in 1900 with engine designer Oscar Hedstrom culminated in the creation of an American legend. In 1901, a few prototype Indian “motocycles” were built, with true production commencing in earnest in 1902 with 143 machines built and 376 more for 1903. Known as the “Camelback,” with its combination oil and gasoline tank housed in a rounded fairing mounted above the rear wheel, the single-cylinder Indian motorcycle was particularly successful with its Hedstrom-designed carburetor and simple, yet rugged design using the engine as a stressed frame member.

The Indian was sensibly advertised by its manufacturer in period as “…first and foremost, a practical road machine.” However, the Indian Single immediately earned a stellar competition record, including a high-profile victory by amateur Indian rider George N. Holden over several higher-powered opponents at the 10-mile Brooklyn Motorcycle Handicap, held September 1, 1902 on Coney Island Boulevard. According to company literature, “The Indian has also been successful in races in Hartford, Springfield, Providence, St. Louis, Worcester, etc., the motors in all cases being our regular Hedstrom motor, 1 ¾ horsepower.” This was no overstatement, since Hedstrom set the world’s motorcycle speed record at 56 mph and won an endurance race from New York to Springfield, Massachusetts and back with an Indian in 1903. Indian’s “production” road model was capable of hitting 25 mph – a remarkable speed on the rough, unpaved roads of the era.

Numbered 392, this 1903 Indian “Camelback” Single is the 148th machine built in 1903. Known history picks up with long-term prior ownership by collector Dave Leitner, who had this Indian restored – using all factory parts in the process – by noted vintage-motorcycle expert Brad Wilmarth of Chesterfield, Virginia. The restoration work by Mr. Wilmarth was performed to his characteristically impeccable standards and the work was completed in 2007. Confirming its excellence, this historic Indian earned 99.75 out of 100 possible points at the February 2009 Antique Motorcycle Club of America Nationals. In May 2009, this stunningly restored 1903 Indian was acquired by Allen Smith and placed within his highly focused and well-curated vintage motorcycle collection. As offered, ‘392’ remains simply beautiful in presentation and continues to stand as a museum-worthy example of the first chain-drive Indian production model, which stood tall as the world’s fastest motorcycle in 1903.

1903 Indian "Camelback" Single
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