A company more used to selling heavy machinery than motorcycles, Wolfe Industrial Auctions of Maryland, USA, recently auctioned off a modest collection of historic Indians, including what it billed as the world’s oldest unrestored example – built in 1903.
Motorcyclist magazine takes up the story: After hanging on a dentist’s wall for 30 years and then being stowed in a garage and then a basement, a 1903 Indian motorcycle will have a new owner. On Saturday, April 21 at the Frederick County Fairgrounds bidders from around the world will compete to own a piece of two-wheeled history from Charlie Alder, Junior’s estate.
“This motorcycle predates the Harley – the bike most Americans associate with homegrown motorcycles,” explained Steve Rinker, who runs Buck’s Indian, an Indian motorcycle restoration firm in Romney, WV. Rinker added, “The handful of 1902 Indian models that were built were deconstructed, their parts used to build the 1.75-horsepower 1903 models.
And as far as we know, this is the only unrestored 1903 still in existence.”
“What makes this bike particularly intriguing is that it’s never been restored. Except for a few nuts and bolts used for early repairs, this bike is all original,” added Josh Ruby, the auctioneer entrusted with selling the motorcycle for the Alder estate. “And I do mean ‘bike.’ This is one of the most primitive motorized vehicles you’ll ever see – a real peek into what innovation looked like over a hundred years ago.”
The motorcycle has already travelled more miles in 2012 than it has cumulatively in the last 90 years – albeit in the back of a van. “It was a hit at Daytona [Bike Week],” said Rinker, who has been storing the bike at his private museum of antique motorcycles until it makes its trip to the auction in Western Maryland.
Ed’s note: the bike fetched US$155,000. It’s likely it would have fetched considerably more through an auction house more used to selling collectible motorcycles.