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Original 1940 Indian With Fresh Inline-Four!

If anyone ever had any doubts about the desirability of vintage motorcycles, a few of the classic Harley-Davidsons that we have featured in recent times here at Barn Finds should provide a graphic insight into this desirability. However, if you remain unconvinced, this 1940 Indian 440 might tip the scales for you. Since it was listed for sale here on eBay, it has received an impressive 33 bids. That pales into insignificance when you realize that this action has pushed the price along to a jaw-dropping $66,900. The Indian is located in Meredith, New Hampshire, and now that the reserve has been met, a new home is just around the corner for this beauty.

The Indian has never undergone any form of cosmetic restoration, which means that it carries its 81-years worth of wear-and-tear with style and dignity. The paint shows all of the deterioration that you might expect, and the same is true of the chrome. The leather on the seat is looking hard, and I would probably be inclined to condition this to see if it could be improved. However, unless a buyer is looking at returning the Indian to a pristine state, that would be all that I would touch. There’s no doubt that this classic would attract plenty of attention fully restored, but it is equally certain that it would garner just as much attention and respect if it were retained as an original survivor. One of the standout features of the 440 is its elegant styling. This is dramatically demonstrated by the fenders, which are a thing of beauty. The partial skirting encloses the wheels and provides improved aerodynamic efficiency in an era when such technological thinking was rare in the world of motorcycle design. This is one of those moments where form and function work together to create something unique. However, this feature came at a cost, adding an incredible 36lbs to the overall weight of the 440. That pushed the overall weight beyond 600lbs, which meant that the Indian was a long way from being considered a lightweight.

If a motorcycle is going to carry a high overall weight, it will need an engine that is up to the task. Where Harley used a V-twin for their offerings, the Indian used an inline 4-cylinder unit with a capacity of 77ci. Referred to as an F-head engine, it features overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valves. The engine design was inherited when Indian purchased the Ace Motor Corporation in 1927. The design remained unchanged until 1936. Indian reversed the valve configuration in that year, extracting more power. However, this came at a cost because not only was the maintenance of this new engine more expensive and time-consuming, but it placed the exhaust system directly against the rider’s inner thigh. Many owners suffered painful burns as a result, so the company reverted to its original configuration for 1938. The news is positive for potential buyers because this powerplant has recently received a comprehensive professional rebuild. It now runs perfectly, with the Indian ready to hit the road the moment the buyer hands over their cash.

There is a sidecar currently attached to the Indian, but this isn’t included in the sale. However, the owner appears willing to negotiate this as a separate sale to the winning bidder. Given how perfectly it matches the styling and condition of the 440, this would be an offer that I would be sorely tempted to consider.

The 1940 Indian 440 was not a cheap motorcycle when it was new, but it was one that stood out from the crowd. In an era when it was possible to park a new Chevrolet car in your driveway for around $700, the Indian 440 cost an incredible $1,000. That would help to explain why the company sold fewer than 10,000 examples during its 15-year production run. Spotting one today is a rare treat, and having the opportunity to park one in your garage is even rarer. That would help explain the bidding action to this point, so it will be interesting to see the final sale price. It will also be interesting to see if we have any readers who might be keen to join the bidding party.


  1. Peter K

    Be still my beating heart!

    Like 1
  2. TBAU Member

    Love it.
    Keep those bikes coming, Adam.

    Like 11
  3. Bob

    I believe Clark Gable owned one of these. Any ideas on how to start this?

    Like 2
    • SMS

      I have not started one of these so it might be different. My Excelsior was an inline 4. You started it with a hand crank. Was quite a long and drawn out process including tickling carbs and turning the crank to find compression. Thankfully it was very low compression so it was easy to crank.

      Was so smooth and the sound was quite different. Not a quick bike at all but could keep up with modern traffic easily.

      Remember a few times being surrounded by groups of Harley riders escorting me on rides. One of them turned off with me and after we stopped the lead let me know that they like to guard vintage riders. He also let me know I got up to 72 MPH.

      Like 1
  4. george mattar

    Legendary motorcycle, but I prefer that Goodwood Green 67 Corvette in the background. How much? I am a serious buyer. Also a 69 Impala SS in there.

    Like 2
  5. CraigR

    I have seen this motorcycle, and it is awesome. I never knew Indian did a 4 banger prior to that….

    Like 2
  6. Ryder

    There’s no way that the exhaust system is original.

    Like 0
  7. luke arnott

    It is my understanding that Indian ploughed resources into the Four,neglecting to develop the V Twins & Singles.This ultimately led to their post war takeover.

    Like 0
  8. JMB#7

    Awesome motorcycle. Great pictures, and very informative write-up. I like how it has received a mechanical rebuild, but is left as a survivor. The sidecar would be a great option to have on this beast.

    Like 3
  9. Ivan

    Jay Leno has a full episode on your tube of his 4 cylinder Indian. What a bike!!! Beats my 1921 Indian scout.

    Like 2

      Jay has a homemade car with a 4 cyl. Indian in it also.

      Like 0
  10. Tom Bell

    The 1940 H/D next to it is now over $40,000 with 93 bids.

    Like 1
  11. Paul Jackson Member

    I have a 1939 4cyl hotrod so I can attest to the smoothness and roll on acceleration from 15mph to close enough to 90mph in high gear. My favorite party trick is hand starting the engine

    Like 0
  12. Terry

    What’s striking is it has a 130 mph speedometer. Optimistic just a bit perhaps, but while the bike probably isn’t quick, it’s probably fast enough, given enough room. This doesn’t appear to have a suicide clutch, instead having a foot shifter. Nice all-around vintage motorcycle. If I was to buy it, I would ride it as-is.

    Like 0
  13. chrlsful

    bike is nxt door to the oldest motorcycle event in the country weirs’beach, NH.
    Indians drove the 3 hr, 150 mi from Springfield MA to Laconia since the 1st WW and in the middle of the Great Depression.

    Like 0

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