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The Rare 1942 Indians
10-11-2017, 11:08 AM
Post: #1
The Rare 1942 Indians
Unless you totally weren't paying attention to high school history class, you know that the U.S.A. entered World War Two (officially) on December 7th, 1941. As incomprehensible as it may seem today, the government then assumed control of most aspects of industry and manufacturing in the country. Gasolline was rationed, as were tires, and other 'strategic assets'. The national speed limit was dropped to 35 miles an hour to save gasoline and tire rubber wear. On February 9th, 1942, the federal government stopped production of the vast majority of civilian vehicles, with exceptions for special needs. (Harley-Davidson would take FULL advantage of the 'special needs' permits to keep some of their dealers supplied with bikes, while Indian would devote it's entire production to the war...but that's another story...) Anyway, it isn't that 1942 Indians are rare...quite the contrary. There are tons of 1942 Indians - especially 741s - out there, that can be had for very reasonable prices, i.e. less than $15,000.
What is truly rare is a CIVILIAN 1942 Indian.
There are no really accurate numbers on how many civvy 1942's were made, but the majority of them appear to be 442's and Sport Scouts. Most of the 442's were for police departments.
Part of the problem is that the Indian numbering system was not updated in 1941 to adjust for the 1942 models. Indian could see the writing on the wall, and just continued to use 1941 numbers on the 1942 bikes.
There wasn't even a factory brochure for the 1942's. Most of the information on the production of the 1942 civilian models that we know for sure comes from the "Indian News" for that period, and one, single dealer bulletin. We know that many of the chrome plated parts were replaced, where possible, with enamel-coated ones, and the Indian head on the tank would be identical to the one used in 1946.
Here is a photo of an unrestored 1942 442, and one of Steve McQueen's bikes, a 1942 Sport Scout, that was restored to 1941 specs by Bob and Gary Stark at Starklite Cycles.
Now you know.
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