1941 Indian Series 441
The sun sets on the golden age of fours
All good things, it is said, must come to an end.
And when it came to the luxury-class four-cylinder motorcycles that grew up during American motorcycling’s heyday in the first decades of the 20th Century, the end came in 1941.
That was the final full year of production for the last of the classic American-made, four-cylinder motorcycles: The Indian Series 441 Four.
With its gracefully skirted fenders, smooth ride and prestige image, the 441 was the height of development of the American four. But it didn’t begin that way.
In fact, Indian’s four didn’t even start out as an Indian. Its origins date from the 1920s, when Will and Tom Henderson, who built the Henderson Four starting in 1911 and then sold that company, created their second four-cylinder machine, the Ace, which instantly took its place among America’s most respected machines.
But then Will Henderson died in a testing accident, and the company foundered. When the Ace name and assets went up for sale in 1927, Indian emerged the winning bidder. Indian debuted its first four less than three months later, even leaving the Ace name on the tank in the early years.
In time, Indian made the machine its own, first temporarily inverting the valve-train, then redesigning the engine in ’38. The skirted fenders arrived in ’40.
By then, the Indian Four was a truly luxurious machine, with an easy-to-start 77-cubic-inch (1,265cc) engine; a three-speed, tank-shift transmission, a sealed-beam headlight, as well as optional 5.00x16 tires.
Civilian models were produced through 1941. But with the U.S. becoming involved in World War II, only police production continued. Then, it disappeared, making the 441 the last of the breed.
This ’41 Indian Four was raffled off, with proceeds supporting the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio. For information or to purchase current raffle tickets contact the Museum at (614) 856-2222; or go to http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/rafflebike.aspx.