The Indian company was, in fact, Harley-Davidson’s greatest rival throughout its existence. In 1913 alone, the company sold something like 32,000 units, a very significant number in a market that at the time was still quite small.
To understand how the Big Chief came about, we must first go back to 1923, at the launch of the 600cc two-cylinder Scout motorcycle. That bike was itself an evolution of Indian’s previous Power Plus model. The Power Plus, though a very fruitful venture for the brand, was starting to show its age and had already become quite heavy for the discerning European market.
The Big Chief model emerged from the ashes of both bikes, first with the 600cc engine from the 1923 Scout and then later with a 1200-cc block from which it got the name ‘Big Chief’. The engine capacity increase was essentially a direct response to the Harley Davidson Seventy-four. The American marque’s commitment to the Big chief was handsomely rewarded with the tremendous commercial success which made the Big Chief one of its most popular bikes.
Acquired in 1967, the Big Chief was subsequently donated to the Museu do Caramulo by Salvador Patrício Gouveia.