FROM THE ESTATE OF ASTRONAUT CHARLES (PETE) CONRAD, JR., THE APOLLO 12 CAPTAIN AND A CONGRESSIONAL SPACE MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT
1947 INDIAN CHIEF
Frame No. 3478476
Engine No. CDG8476
Indian red with black leather seat
Engine: V-Twin, 74ci, 20hp ; Gearbox: three-speed with left hand throttle and right hand shift; Suspension: coil spring girder forks at the front with plunger rear; Brakes: front and rear drum hidden discs.
Designer Charles Franklin was responsible for the two most well known Indian motorcycles produced, namely the Scout and the Chief. The latter, the larger of the two machines, was offered initially in the 61 cubic inch form. In this configuration the bike provided for the best in balance of vibration and performance from a V-Twin engine. From 1922 the model would be redeveloped, staying in production in various guises for over thirty years until the company's demise. By 1947 the Chief featured an enlarged 74 cubic inch, side valve engine and was fitted with a plunger rear suspension system. Mechanically, the Indian Chiefs offered the rider optimum touring performance combined with a look unequalled by any of its domestic or international competitors.
The lovely example on offer here was purchased by Captain Charles (Pete) Conrad, Jr. in the early 1990s in unrestored condition from its former Boise, Idaho owner. Captain Conrad will always be remembered for bravely representing his country in space on the Apollo 12 mission of 1967. Captain Conrad and fellow astronaut Alan Bean became the third and fourth human beings to set foot on the moon's surface. In total Conrad flew four separate missions into space including Gemini 5, Gemini 11, Apollo 12 and the Skylab mission. It was as a result of his heroic efforts in rescuing Skylab that Captain Conrad was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, an award given to only a handful of people. After retiring from NASA Captain Conrad returned to civilian life and developed a passion for vintage and contemporary motorcycles.
After purchasing the 1947 Indian Chief, he submitted the bike to an extensive restoration that, by its completion nearly two years and $25,000 later, would yield one of the most remarkable Indian Chiefs in existence today. The restoration was carried out under the supervision of noted Indian motorcycle specialist Mr. Wilson Plank. Mr. Plank, proprietor of American Indian Specialists, restored this bike to better than new standards. He placed emphasis on authenticity, dependability and ridability.
This matching numbers example proved an excellent candidate for restoration as it showed less than 29,000 miles on the odometer. Work on the bike encompassed every aspect of the Indian's mechanics. The engine was completely disassembled, the internals were replaced and hardened value seats and silver brazing techniques helped ease future wear and allow for smoother running capabilities. The gas tanks were tin dipped, the forks were completely straightened, disc brakes were employed within the drum housings, a 12 volt electrical conversion was installed and the original spoke wheels were restored and replaced with stainless steel spokes, to name only a few of the restoration aspects. Cosmetically the frame is finished in gloss black with the stylish fenders, gas tank and ancillary trim items finished in Sikkens Indian red. The cylinder heads are coated in a high heat durable black epoxy, the head fins were all heli-arced and straightened as well. The bike features a clever, yet understated safety device beyond the disc brakes where the seat has tiny lights mounted on the rear that catch the attention of other motorists during night riding.
We understand that details of all the restoration work done by Mr. Plank can be made available to the buyer. It is rare indeed to see examples such as this available for sale. The laborious restoration and distinguished ownership make this Indian Chief a special example and we thoroughly recommend close inspection.