1947 ‘RAINBOW’ CHIEF
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’