Barn Find Twice! 1947 Indian Chief

How often do you hear about a vehicle of any type being a barn find twice in it’s life? This beautiful 1947 Indian Chief comes along with a great story! It’s listed for sale here on eBay where it was listed for no reserve–but you’d better hurry as the auction is almost over!

Here’s where the bike was found for the second time. The first time was in 1989 when the bike was purchased from it’s presumed second owner. At that time, a full mechanical restoration was performed on the Indian, and then it’s new owner rode it for a grand total of 141 miles before being parked again in a barn in 1993.

Presumably this is original paint, although we don’t know for sure. I think it looks great, and would absolutely leave the bike alone cosmetically. As far as mechanically goes, there’s a great video here of it running!

Get your bids in quick to be the next person to move the needle on this speedometer! Go, go, go! And be sure to let us know if you win this beautiful bike!


  1. Bill

    Nice bike. Lose the stupid music in the video.

  2. Woodie Man

    When I was in high school , around ’71, I had a teacher who, .believe it or not, had a shed FULL of old Indians, Scouts and Chiefs, leaning up against one and another! That year I went to Hershey with him….the only time I’ve been. Ever since a ’47 Chief has been on my bucket list.

    While my ideal is a maroon and black Chief, this one looks usable. Provenance being everything to me……I only wish it wasnt baby blue. Maybe someone can chime in…this looks like a repaint…and is this an original Indian color?

    Yo Howard……

    • Howard A Member

      Hey Woodie Man, sadly, this magnificent piece is before my time. I’m more of a Kawasaki Z1 or Triumph Trident kind of guy. Quite frankly, these “suicide clutch” ( no such thing as a “suicide shift”) bikes are a chore to drive, from what I can imagine. I wouldn’t want to take my hands off the bars for any reason. Like an old pickup, these are beautiful to look at, driving them, not so much. BTW, research shows, this( according to was an original Indian color in 1947, Seafoam Blue.

      • Woodie Man

        Howard… too. I have a ’82 Kawasaki KZ 250 belt drive! Got it from my 90 yr old neighbor…..w a Buick hood emblem welded to the license plate backing… lol

        I kinda like the suicide clutch. Yeah they are a bear. More of a cruising bike for sure…but damn they look mean :)

        Still want one. Through the mists of time I wonder how that teacher I had in high school who was no ones idea of a mc guy…ended up with all those Indians. He also turned me onto Jack Kerouac ( just as he died) , so I guess a hipster hid in his mild mannered persona.

      • Stu

        This bike doesn’t have a “suicide” clutch either. Stock Indian and Harley clutches of the era were operated by a “rocker” clutch pedal. If you look closely you can see the pedal has both a forward (toe) pad and a rearward (heel) pad. The rocker pedal swings over center and has friction discs that help hold it in position–whether engaged or disengaged.

        The ‘suicide’ term is more descriptive of the cutdown/ bobber/ chopper style where the rocker assembly is replaced with a single pedal arm more like an automotive clutch pedal. When stepped on it’s disengaged and when released the clutch is fully engaged. Anyone who’s ever ridden one knows the horrible contemplation of unintended suicide should they approach a stop, still in gear, and suddenly–unexpectedly–need to take their foot off the clutch in order to put their left foot on the ground!

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi guys. Actually the ‘suicide’ clutch (or a rocker clutch) isn’t that hard to get used to. I’ve ridden them and you just learn to adapt. One thing I’m a little surprised to see with this one is most Indians had the throttle on the left and spark advance on the right grip with the shifter on the RH side of the tank–the opposite of a Harley, unless you rode a Servi-Car. I had an H-D 45 Servi-Car and there were times when it threatened to break my ankle because I twisted the wrong grip. Back to how these older bikes were, I remember a gorgeous scooter chick in Sturgis who rode a Roadmaster similar to this one and she handled it like a pro. I might add that she might’ve tipped the scales at 115.

        Myself, I never cared for crotch rockets; they all started with a light push on the button, purred in traffic and looked exactly the same. But others did/do and that’s up to them; I sure don’t expect everyone to be in full agreement with my sometimes demented ideas. I packed a lot of miles on a BSA 500 (single) Sportsman, a Norton Ranger and a Harley Davidson Big Twin. They took me to many parts of the country, through many fogs (a lot of them alcoholic) and brought me back.

        Like 1
      • Howard A Member

        Thanks all, see? Even an old fart like me can still learn something.

      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        Geomechs, I had a 1942 HD 45 with the spark advance in it. T’was a bear to ride with that, the weight and the tank shift/foot clutch, but you couldn’t get closer to the “core” to the beginnings of motorized vehicles. Sold it off…not the best bike to have in Los Angeles traffic, that’s for sure.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi wasjeepnowsaab. My old Servi-Car was a ’42. It would be lousy in freeway traffic. Flat out it would hit 50. Suicide clutches could get you in lots of trouble but then, I broke a couple of clutch cables while negotiating rush hour traffic, and that was no picnic either.

      • Gordon

        The Indian Chief does not have a “suicide clutch.” To be correct it has a “foot clutch.” I ride an Indian, in fact I have several Indians—-all Chiefs and none ot them have a suicide clutch—each one is stock w/o modifications. I also own a 1930 Harley Davidson VL. The Harley does have a suicide clutch. The difference is that the Harley is spring loaded where thr Indian clutch is static.

    • Stu

      Some of us still ride these old bikes regularly–many of which were built before we were born. There’s nothing quite as special as rocker clutch, tank shift, and a seat suspended on a pogo stick. The internal handlebar cables for throttle and spark are slightly less responsive, but help one tune into the machine and it’s place in time.

      Interestingly Harley and Indian had many of the controls completely the opposite: for example Harley rocking the clutch forward to go, Indian rocking backward to go. Same with the shifter: Some Harleys pulling back to grab a higher gear, while the Indians pushed the shift lever forward to go faster. Left throttle, right spark versus right throttle left spark, etc.

      SO, if riding next to the ‘other brand’ one would move forward and crouch down as gaining speed. The other would start out forward and gradually straighten their body position to more upright. Then when slowing they would reverse: one would straighten up as the other crouched down. It’s almost like a battle of two different philosophies–easy to see how those visual gymnastics fueled the “Harley vs. Indian” wars on the race tracks of the nation.

      All great fun. Ride ’em, don’t hide ’em!!!

      • Woodie Man

        Interesting explanation. Thanks!

  3. MikeG

    Hopefully the next owner will use the darn thing….the whole Garage Queen thing is strange to me.

  4. Rob

    Winning bid: Not from me :(
    US $25,700.00

  5. Ck

    I love these old bikes ,the suicide clutch is kool…..But unfortunately this woulden’t be much fun to ride all the time.look before all the thumbs down come my way,people today wouldn’t know how to kick start it never mind ride it Safely. Ive known a few old timers who rode bikes like this and swore they would never ride an EVO.Then the Road King happened and everyone wanted one even the old timers got one.Now every one wants a Street Glide and I can’t blame them they are beautiful bikes ,and they ride like a dream.Look like I said its kool But its pretty much a bike to ride only on short runs and in parades or put it in a show.$25k or better is alot of $$$ for a bike that won’t be ridden much.Too bad cuz like I said I do love these old bikes.

  6. Francisco

    This is the same seller that has the Maserati that Barn Finds featured earlier. He has a lot of nice stuff. High dollar though.

  7. Howard A Member

    Apparently, there’s more dirt on this bike. It’s rumored that law enforcement ( who used Indians) preferred the left hand throttle, so as to make it easier to pull their service revolver whilst chasing bad guys ( and such) Also, these were a hit with moonshiners. They’d fill the left tank with booze and run off the right side.

  8. whippeteer

    The final price sounds like a good buy. My grandfather had a Scout with a sidecar in the early 30s. He traded it in for a car when my mom was born as my grandmother would not have her riding in a sidecar.

  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Looks like the same bike that sits in a restaurant here in NH. Cool to look at, but I think it is sad that it will never be enjoyed.

  10. Brian

    My father had one back in 1961 62 a 1948 Indian chief saddle bags leather I was waiting to see when somebody was going to say left hand throttle shifter and yes clutch pedal he sold it in the mid-70s when I was about 13 the young fella that bought it took off out of the yard could not turn on the road straight across into a bean field never heard dad laughed so hard in my life chorus pops had to help him get it out of the field what a great piece of machinery I wish I would have been in line to get it

  11. EHide Behind

    Say what you will of difficulty to handle as these are I still want one, although at my age, hmmmm.
    My first powered two wheeler was a Harley hard tail, ex dirt tracker, and I think I wrenched and poured oil in it daily. Yet the freedom of open road louder than he’ll exhaust, and far lower top end than my 41 Chevy convertible is still fresh in memory.
    THEY were made to ride and ride hard and every mother who wanted daughter to wait till wedding night warned them that getting on one of them would get them pregnant.
    Not made for the yuppy crowd of today thats for sure, and most young girls, as did their mommas, prefer pillows under ass rather than grass, and know it’s not the bike that got them pregnant.
    Those who ride an Indian ride a notch higher than the rice crotch rockets and wussy Harley and foreign cruiser owners of today.

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