Their pricing didn't help. You had to really want that retro look. Interestingly enough, people who bought the original Chief with the big fenders tended to remove them; as a retro item it was never more than a niche. I did like the other models however.
Oh, and I did drive by the empty Excelsior Henderson factory in Belle Plaine today. Thought about the dealer there that sold, you guessed it, Indians. And Triumphs. They have an unsold 2002 Thunderbird that they'll practically give away. Wouldn't want to make a living selling retros.
It's a shame but there really was nothing that set Indian apart from Harley. Many arguments have been made about Indian being nothing but another clone company banking on a legendary name. I have to agree with this. rounded off cylinders can't change the fact that every other part, with the exception of the fenders, look like they just came straight from the Harley catalog. If anyone tries to revive the name again, let's all hope that they can be at least a little more unique.
While its sad to see another American manufacturer shutter its doors, I'm not surprised. In addition to product, you need a strong (profitable) retail organization to succeed. Indian came up short in both areas.
Based on Indian's market research surveys emailed to me on a regular basis, I don't think they had a clue. I can also name a few other brands that are currently introducing new products -- but are miserably represented by a makeshift dealer body.
Gilroy, CA (UPI) Honky Cheese Wagon, inc., a new manufacturer of "upscale semi-mobile lifestyle display platforms" announced the opening of their plant here today.
Right on the heels of a press conference announcing the closure of the Indian Moto-Cycle plant in the same location, the announcement was a surprise to the leisure industry.
Lou Terhar, former president of the Indian Motorcycle corporation, had just finished one press conference announcing the closure of the one plant when he suddenly turned 90 degrees to face a different bank of cameras and microphones, donned a lime green vest and a dual beer can holding hat and stated, "Today is a great day for the upscale semi-mobile lifestyle display platforms industry." He then went on to unveil the new product, which looked like an Indian Scout motorcycle, but painted lime green with fuschia polka-dots. The vehicle is also equipped with training wheels, a Super Soaker(tm), and a 40 gallon aerosol dispenser full of Silly String (tm). Top speed is governed to 8 miles per hour, to comply with National Conference of Clowns and Jugglers (NCCJ) conventions.
"To save on costs, we will be making these units with special imported labor." Terhar than pointed to several 40-foot shipping containers with holes cut in the sides. Human voices could be heard from within.
"This is a product that should sell well," said C. Morton Funbrook, a leisure industry expert and author of "Severe Fun Warning-America's Leisure Purchase Obsession". "With the rise in demandd for such absurd products as $9,000 gas grills, Pot Bellied Pigs and Hummer H2's, Americans have demonstrated their eagerness to use their tax-cut dividends on completely useless, yet well-marketed, purchases."
As yet, delivery dates for the Honky Cheese Wagons have not been set.
Anyone interested in the "two-wheel world" has to cringe at the closing of yet another motorcycle manufacturer of American motorcycles. Unfortunately, this current version of Indian did way too much in the way of advertising and damn little in the making of a motorcycle. Sad...very sad.
Hope somebody buys the name who wants to make motorcycles and sell tshirts on the side.....not the other way around.
I've been thinking this for 15 years: Why doesn't one of the Japanese Big 4 buy one of these old names like Indian or Henderson and rebadge their cruisers with it. They already make some of their bikes in the states anyway. What better way to compete with Harley? If it says Indian on the tank and Made in the USA on the sticker, the average Joe is not going to care if it was designed by Kawasaki.
Big Dog seems (and I certainly haven't been reading their quarterlies, so this is a completely superficial observation) to be doing all right manufacturing expensive H-D clones. I suspect their organization is more efficient than Indian's was. Not saying this is a great business model, but it isn't a universal failure.
According to their last financial report they're doing just fine.
Looks like BigDog (last of the super clones) Victory (the real American alternative) and Harley are the only remaining choices for the "I'll only ride American" crowd. That is at least if you can't afford the custom clone builders from American Ironhorse to Bourgets to Confederate MC.