1946 Indian Chief

The 1946 Indian Chief became the company's only model after the war. This fine example is equipped with the factory sidecar. See more motorcycle pictures.

The now-legendary V-twin 1946 Indian Chief motorcycle emerged as Indian's flagship model after World War II, and the popular design relegated the American company's four-cylinder and smaller V-twin models to history.

The 1946 Indian Chief motorcycle was similar to prewar big Indians; the engine remained a 74-cubic-inch flathead and tank graphics were unchanged. As always, "Indian Red" was a popular color choice, though others, including two-tones, were available.


New for the 1946 Indian Chief motorcycle however were girder-style could-spring forks adopted from Indian's radical 841 model that had been designed for desert use by the U.S. military during the war.

These new forks provided a full five inches of wheel travel versus the meager two inches allowed by the previous leaf-spring design.

Though the rear still featured the same plunger-type suspension, spring rates were softened. These changes resulted in an even smoother ride than before, a notable selling feature of the postwar models.

Another accessory was a spring-mounted sidecar, first offered in 1940, which carried fancy chrome speedlines and trim.

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1946 Indian Chief pictures

"Indian Red" remained a popular color choice for postwar Indian motorcycle buyers.

Though similar to to prewar versions, the 1946 Indian Chief motorcycle included upgrades such as new girder-style front forks and softer spring rates on the plunger-type rear suspension.

Indian's nicely designed one-passenger sidecar made its debut as a option in 1940.
An attached locking toolbox was a popular accessory of the day.
The Chief's 74-inch flathead engine was unchanged from its prewar design.
The sidecar carried fancy chrome speedlines and trim.
The sidecar was spring-mounted to cushion the ride. This Chief is also equipped with optional front and rear crash bars.
Buyers could substitute two-tone color schemes
After the war, Indian dropped all its four-cylinder and smaller V-tinws in favor of the big V-twin Chief.

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