SPRINGFIELD, MA – Some motor in proudly. Others are rolled in, while a few arrive with “some assembly required.” The annual Indian Day staged at the Springfield Museums brings together dozens of old Indian motorcycles, along with their mostly old owners.
James Maloney brought a just-acquired 1915 Indian with a rebuilt engine and missing transmission. He could be seen adding fenders once he found a spot on the show ground.
“I figure this has got to be ‘worst in show.’ I’d like to trade it for something a little bit newer. I can go up to ’28,” he said.
Maloney is planning to ride in the next coast-to-coast Motorcycle Cannonball – either on the 1915 Indian, a newer Indian if he can work a trade or possibly a vintage Triumph. After getting the fenders aligned, but not attached, Maloney walked away … and the bike toppled over. Eventually, some spectators grabbed a folding chair and helped prop it up.
Having no problem was Bob Marchese of Ludlow, MA who rode in on a 1941 Indian trike. He explained the 750cc model was built as a utility vehicle for farmers. He’s owned it for 31 years having spotted it at Indian Day in 1986 with a “$1,500 or obo” for sale sign on it. “It was the only bike for sale,” he said, noting that it immediately went into the back of his pickup.
The 1941 Indian didn’t looked then as it does today. “It was a rusted out, almost worthless piece of junk,” Marchese said. It looks much better now.
From sparkling to showing patina, the bikes at Indian Day all reflected the glory days of Indian.
Winning “Best in Show” was a 1939 Indian Chief owned by Brendon Romcke-Harber of Fairfield, CT. It’s blue and gray paint scheme gave a modern appearance to the 78-year-old bike.
This year’s Indian Day was blessed with fine weather and a strong turnout. It was celebrated in memory of Esta Manthos, who died in October at age 101. Her large collection of Indians provided the bulk of the models in the current collection at the Springfield Museums’ Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History.