Indian Big Chief
Indian followed its 1920 debut of the improved 600cc V-twin Scout with the larger-displacement 1,000cc Chief in 1922. Continuing on with the bigger-is-better approach, Indian launched the 1,200cc Big Chief in 1923. With standard electric lights and a generator, new tank-side compression-release rod and heavier frame tubing with reinforcements to handle the increased horsepower, the Big Chief quickly rode to the best-selling model spot in the Indian lineup.
The Motorcycle offered
This particular 1923 Indian Big Chief is equipped with a Princess Sidecar, and not only was it owned by Steve McQueen, but it was additionally restored at his request by renowned artist Kenny Howard, known by those in the custom-car and motorcycle world as Von Dutch. This restored Indian Big Chief is a first-year example of the engineering and manufacturing expertise that propelled Indian to the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world by the early 1920s.
McQueen had a passion for motorcycles and motorsports that he conveyed not only into cinematic history with the “Great Escape” and “LeMans,” but also into life itself with a second-place finish at the 24 Hours of Sebring in 1970 with Peter Revson against the combined motorsport juggernaut of Ferrari and Mario Andretti. In 1969, McQueen turned to the best in the business of car-culture art and motorcycle mechanicals when it came time to restore this iconic first-year Indian Big Chief. Von Dutch was a highly influential Southern California-based artist, fabricator, mechanic and restorer. The mechanical side of the restoration began with the 1,200cc (74 CI) Indian dual-cam V-twin, and worked its way out to the paint, lettering and pinstriping laid down by Von Dutch himself. The motorcycle and sidecar stand as a rideable and enduring symbol of the dedication and creativity of people that embrace motorcycling with passion.