August 2000 Feature 
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 Jim Kellett's 1948 Chief
By Jim Jones

My wife came back from her Motorcycle Safety course and told me that there was a fellow in the class that had just bought an Indian. I thought that I had gotten a late start, but she mentioned that he was in his late 60’s! After the course, Jim Kellett emailed me to say hello, as we both live in Maryland, (east coast USA). We exchanged a few emails and when the VI Shirts came about, he asked me how to get one.

Well, that was easy. Jim agreed that it would be fine if I delivered his shirt, so a few weeks ago, I stole the wife’s bike and took a ride to his place.

Coming up the long drive, there was a small Honda, and a 1948 Indian Chief. Jim and his wife Joan have an attached 2-bay garage, as well as a 3 bay detached shop. The doors were closed. I was curious…Being a gracious host, the first thing Jim did was offer lunch, so we chatted a bit as he grilled up some dogs.

Jim had graduated from high school in 1949 and always wanted a 1948 Indian Chief. Guess he had a hard time finding a ’49. I found out that the Chief is one of the more modern machines in Jim’s collection. He has been in the old car hobby for a while and has 3 nice restored Model A Fords behind those garage doors. Also a Mercedes 450. His car club drives their model A’s all over the place to meets. They had just gotten back from Williamsburg, Virginia the past weekend (about a 5 –6 hour trip in a modern car). I asked him if they worried about breaking down, and his response was that they could almost always fix it. And if things got real bad there was usually a show car in a trailer that could be driven while the sick car rode. Jim showed me a magazine article describing how he restored one of his Model A’s from a basket case. A picture of lots of parts strewn around started it off. Then he asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. SURE! So we took a short spin along a quiet country road.

Too soon we were back at his place, where I finished the photo session with a few shots of the Model A as a background for the 348.

Why is Jim Kellett smiling? Because his bike is definitely something worth waiting 51 years for! And there’s plenty of room to squeeze a few more between his cars!

Click on pictures for full size

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