A brand is truly iconic in America if the Franklin Mint makes commemorative collector plates of it. Though the Indian Motorcycle Company underwent several transformations in its first century of existence, the brand was enough of a part of American h
The Indian Motorcycle Company has a long and storied history that includes the triumph of supplying motorcycles to the Allies in World War II and the defeat of going bankrupt not once, but twice. Still, Indian motorcycles have an iconic status as America’s first American built motorcycle. Models made in the 1920s were still breaking speed records well into the 1960s. Steve McQueen’s first motorcycle was a 1946 Indian Chief, and he owned several more before his death in 1980. The 1928 101 Scout still inspires strong devotion because of its lowered frame and amazing performance.
Though the brand was all but forgotten by the time it went under the first time in 1953, Indian enthusiasts kept up their expertise and bought and sold vintage models until the brand was started back in 1999 in Gilroy, California. The Gilroy Company was made from a merger of nine companies, including the one that had finally won the coveted “Indian” name in 1999 after a hard fought trademark battle that spanned nearly two decades. The Gilroy Indians, as they are often called, were made from 1999 until 2003, when an investor backed out and the Gilroy plant had to close.
In 2004, investors Stephen Julius and Steve Heese, who had resurrected the Chris Craft Boat Company, acquired the trademark rights and intellectual properties of Indian. Four years later, in 2008, the first 2009 Indian Chief rolled off the assembly line in a brand new Kings Mountain, North Carolina manufacturing plant. The company has already opened more than a dozen official Indian dealerships and plans to open 50 by the end of 2011. The revival of the brand has rekindled interest in the vintage Indian motorcycles, and it is fairly safe to say that the brand could be headed for its strongest performance yet.
The Franklin Mint makes icons of pop culture into collectibles in the form of plates and other licensed objects. A series of Indian Motorcycle Franklin Mint plates were created depicting the 1947 Indian Chief, the Indian Four, The Indian Scout, and the Indian 1942 442. They can now be found through auction sites like eBay and personal ad sites like Craigslist.