1947 ‘RAIN­BOW’ CHIEF

Classic Bike (UK) - - GOING NATIVE -

In 1933 the Chief went to dry sump lu­bri­ca­tion from the old to­tal loss. A year later it lost the he­li­cal-gear pri­mary drive, re­placed by a cheaper and qui­eter four-row chain – Har­ley rid­ers joked that the whine from the geared pri­mary drive sounded like a built-in po­lice siren. The 1935 Chief looked bang up to date with smooth duck­tailed fend­ers and a strik­ing In­dian chief‘s head de­cal on the tank. Per­for­mance was im­proved with cylin­der heads de­signed to in­crease midrange torque with a small sac­ri­fice in top speed. But Har­ley had their own ideas, and in 1936 launched the leg­endary 1000cc ohv ‘Knuck­le­head’. In­dian’s re­sponse? A tank-top in­stru­ment panel and cus­tom paint fea­tures – but these did be­come a use­ful sell­ing point, with colour op­tions run­ning to prac­ti­cally any­thing the cus­tomer wanted. This was a side ben­e­fit of Du­lux paint man­u­fac­turer E Paul dupont hav­ing taken over strug­gling In­dian in 1930. In 1938 Rol­lie Free set stock class records at Day­tona Beach with 109.65mph for the Chief and 111.55mph for the Sport Scout.

‘HAR­LEY RID­ERS SAID THE PRI­MARY DRIVE SOUNDED LIKE A SIREN’

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