me it all started in the mid 80’s. I grew up on motorcycles from the land
of the rising sun. Later in life, I switched to a Harley Davidson. While
in the military, I got the idea that it might be kind of neat to get an
antique motorcycle. At that time, I was again thinking of a Harley. I had
heard of the Indian, but do not really remember ever seeing one as a kid.
I started looking into it a bit, and even went and looked at a panhead.
Then as luck would have it, I stumbled upon a man with a couple photos
of Indian motorcycles he had for sale. But he was located in Arizona and
I was aboard a ship in California.
Therefore, although I was interested, it would have to wait until I returned from my next patrol. While on patrol in the Bearing Sea. I was able to read a new book given to me by my brother and his wife, The Iron Red Skin’s, by Harry Sucher. When my brother and I took off for Arizona, we were very excited as I had become something of an Indian fan, although, all I had to go on was that book. To make a long story short, once I saw the Indian head on the gas tank and heard the machine run, the deal was as good as done.
I enjoyed nothing but little runs around the neighborhood, never far from home until I was out of the service. Then I attempted to restore the machine, with lots of help. I had many disappointments and some hard lessons along the way, finding out what I thought had been a 1939 Indian Sport Scout was actually a bunch of Scout parts, probably put together from parts off shelves. At best, bits of Scout. Not to mention the fact that they were completely worn out. Even through all of this, the machine had sparked something inside of me. I really liked it and enjoyed my little rides around the neighborhood. It turned out that I restored the Scout, just as I had gotten it.
On Jan 1st 1990, my Scout was done and ready to ride. Thanks to some fantastic people in the trade, several of whom let me assist in the effort. Names like Lee Standley, Ken and Dennis Young and Bob Stark. I assembled the machine and did all the paint work and as much of every thing else as I could.
When I was working on it, I would often tell my Dad that I hoped it would be dependable enough to make our little rides along the coast. Well, my Scout has far surpassed my expectations. In the process, it as also made me a real Indian fan. My Scout is mighty worn and not much is correct. Nevertheless, I love it and she runs like the wind; it has many times amazed me.
I have made the run with my Dad hundreds of times, and have gone camping with it a couple times now. I have become quite active in the So Cal Chapter of the AMCA and make almost all their runs on it. It has almost never let me down, and when it has, it was usually my fault. I always get nice remarks about its looks and performance. That is especially nice when in company of a lot of modern Harley’s. They always think it is such a cute little machine, but do not really take it to be a real motorcycle. Then that 45” comes to life and they say, “Sounds good!”. Then after the ride they will usually say something like, “ My gosh! that old thing really goes!,.. and it sure does!. It will cruise on the freeway at 60 mph, and has proven to be very dependable. In 10 years of mostly weekend morning rides, I have put 30,000 miles on her and she is still going strong.
Much of my good luck I can attribute to Lee Standley, for he did my bottom end. I now have another Indian Scout, a 1925 model that is much more correct. Lee also did that power plant as I bought the machine from him. I have made many good friends in this hobby, and find that to be one of the best aspects of it. I actually ride now with the author of that book which got me started a decade ago. I am in the process of painting my ‘25 Scout right now. When its done, I know it, too, will be a great machine, and I can’t hardly wait to head out on a Sunday morning with good old Dad.
I have painted four motorcycles now and though my work is that of a novice. I have been very pleased with the results. In addition, I have restored one other brand, again with a lot of help. A Henderson Deluxe, which is a whole other story. Though it is a grand machine and a blast to ride, my Scouts have turned my blood and heart Indian red!
on pictures for full size
Tom Lovejoy is Vice President of the AMCA SoCal Chapter. The Chapter is heavy on Indians and does a lot of runs. The magnificent AMCA SoCal website is here. Check it out!
National AMCA website here.