It’s time for an update on values for our Indian Motorcycles. We last published this article in October 2014. Since our last value review we have had a recession with a slow recovery. Let’s see how the bikes are doing value wise. These articles have created a few letters from our members stating that we were creating price inflation, and at these published prices they would no longer be able to afford an Indian. This article is not intended to inflate any values. Our purpose is to report an accurate value of various models. These values have been averaged by interviewing sources on both the East and West coasts, magazine ads, and auction results.
Since our last update values on all Indians have increased. During the past year Indian prices have remained in an upward trend. The past few months show that the upward movement of values is continuing. The most desirable bikes are unrestored projects. People are enjoying the challenge of restoring bikes, and these unrestored bikes are in high demand. The biggest change in values continues with the Four Cylinder Indians. In February 2004 a new record was set for the price of an Indian Four. At the Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, a 1941 Indian Four sold for $58,000. This same bike will sell for over $70,000 today. This shows they are very much in demand and with very low production numbers they can command a premium price. The next greatest movement in prices is the last motorcycles built in Springfield, the 1952 – 1953 Chiefs.
Every day on the phone we receive numerous requests regarding, “How much is my motorcycle worth ?” This is a very ambiguous question. There are several factors which determine the value of a motorcycle.
1. Condition of the machine.
2. Popularity of the machine.
3. Quantity Produced.
4. Professionally restored.
5. Current Market Price.
First of all, the condition of the machine is of the utmost factor in determining it’s value. The better the condition, or more recently the restoration, the better the value. Also, originality has great importance. The greater the originality, the greater the price. To help determine the condition of the bike a standard has to be set. This standard involves rating the bikes on a 4 star scale with 1 star being the best condition.
However, not everyone is always in agreement on where a machine falls on this scale. Care must be taken to rate a machine properly. A lot of machines will be advertised as 1 star machines when in actuality they are a high 2 star motorcycle. A 1 star motorcycle should be as close to the way it came from the factory as possible. All components down to the fasteners should be original or exact reproduction. All painting and plating should be in perfect condition and the proper color. All wiring should be routed per factory specs. This bike should be able to compete in the Antique Motorcycle Club of America and receive a 95 point grade or higher. To obtain this high score usually takes a high percentage of time and money. It can easily take 1 1/2 times as long to restore a 1 star bike than a 2 star bike.
Based upon the above criteria, you will find the majority of bikes to be very nice 2 star restorations. There is nothing wrong with this. The ability to ride and enjoy your motorcycle is usually more valuable than owning a 1 star motorcycle. A three star motorcycle is one that is in average condition / older restoration, runs well, good paint, or nice rider bike. A four star motorcycle is one that needs work. The bike should be complete, not necessarily running, but completely together with all the parts required. This bike should not be a basket case. A basket case would be a bike completely disassembled usually found in boxes. This type of a bike is hard to value. Usually many parts are missing. Even if you think all the parts are there, you will find as you go to put it together that all the small parts that you missed usually add up to a high dollar amount. If you can avoid it, purchase a four star machine over a basket case any day.
The popularity of your motorcycle and the quantity produced will also determine it’s value. For example: If you have a ’37 Jr. Scout and a ’37 Sport Scout, the Jr. Scout had less quantity produced, but was not very popular, so the Sport Scout is actually worth more. On the other hand, Four Cylinders were popular, still are popular, and were produced in low volumes. This has created a shortage of Indian Fours and has caused the price of this model to enter the stratosphere. The ’53 Chief also has this same scenario. With ’53 being the last year of production, many investors are looking for ’53’s and paying top dollar for them. On the other hand, another good example of the popularity reflecting the value of the bike is the 841 military Scout. This model was produced as a limited edition prototype, with only 1,000 machines produced. However it was never very popular. Therefore this bike does not command a premium price even though it is very rare and difficult to restore.
Professional restoration or home restoration will also make a difference in the final value of the motorcycle. Usually a professional restorer knows a few tricks to update the engine and chassis while still obtaining the original appearance of the parts.
Finally, the current market price is the biggest factor on the value of your motorcycle. The past several years have seen overseas buyers, and investors purchasing bikes for far more than the average motorcyclist could afford. This trend was also helped along by a favorable exchange ratio from the foreign currency into U.S. Dollars. We have also seen this go in reverse, where a motorcycle was shipped overseas then brought back to the States by another buyer. All because of favorable exchange ratios. The past few years have seen the value of the US dollar skyrocket compared to other foreign currencies. We are now seeing many bikes being shipped back to the US so they can obtain top US dollar for their machine. On the other hand, this has driven several models out of the price range of many people. Such as the Four Cylinder models. This has created demand in other model lines. Most notably the last few years have shown more people restoring the 149/249 Vertical Twin models. No market price can take into account the steal of the century, when you unearth that 1940 Chief in the farmer’s barn for $500. But, finds like that are limited or nonexistent any more.
Our table on lists current market prices for several models of Indians. Remember, these are only averages/estimates. It is not the intention of this article to “Set prices”. The prices should be used as approximations only! The buyer and seller ultimately decide the market price/value for a given motorcycle, and some bikes will sell for higher amounts and some lower, since the listed prices are averages.
Antique Indian Motorcycle Value Chart – Condition / Value
|1928-1931||101 Scout 45″||36,500||27,750||19,750||11,500|
|1941-1942||741 Army Scout||22,750||18,500||16,900||8,350|
|1941-1945||Military 74 Chief||39,900||33,900||27,900||12,900|
|1949||Arrow 149 13ci||10,750||9,250||5,500||3,750|
|1949||Scout 249 26ci||15,500||10,250||7,500||3,900|
|1950-1951||Warrior TT 30.5ci||16,500||12,950||8,500||5,000|
How about the 1921 Scout?
This list is an average of bikes sold. The earlier you go, the less bikes sell in a given year to place an average sale price. The biggest swing item that determines value of a given bike is desirability. If it’s in high demand it will have a high value. But if nobody wants that model the price can be low even though it’s an early model.
I notice you dont list the early fours. Can you comment on that
Due to the lack of sales data. It gets difficult to include accurate pricing information for earlier models.
As we have said in previous replies. Bikes like the 841 and early model bikes are hard to value due to low sales figures. The model 841 values have skyrocketed and crashed through the years. Much more volatile than other models. This is due to their desirability factor. Even though it has low production numbers. If people don’t want it, the price plummets. When people decide they want one because they think they are cool the price skyrockets.
great article, thanks so much for your assesments.
1940 chief..first year full suspension, first year fender valences, unique tool box placement, what’s not to love!?
Then there are the aesthetics. Valenced fenders, curvy tins, long and low, rear spring candle holders.
So, I wonder how it is that value is lower than a post war 46-48 or a pre war 38-39?
I dont get that..
Thanks for your info..is of great value to the collectors out there.
Great looking 4 cyl at top of page. 1940?
my big question: Original paint has become a coveted condition with buyers. Patina.crust, and rust..not so much.
In my view, a running #2 bike is of more value than a polished up trailer queen #1 which has not been evaluated on the function or quality of mechanical components, operation, or performance.
The four cyl above is a good example of original paint. Is mostly complete, and not damaged severely by, inept servicing, poor storage, time , and/or the elements. Is a true survivor.
Reviving this machine may cost more than the cost of the rolling basket for most bikes. All though this model/type bike has seen crazy ass rich guy man cave prices for anything with 4 cylinders.
I wonder..would this machine be worth any more than as it sits, to mechanically revive as a survivor?
Would this bike fetch higher value if stripped painted/chromed and perfumed back to sudo factory?
Say we were working on a 1940 CDO Chief…(yes I am..)
Is a quality running #2 with fresh paint worth more than..
A quality running mechanically rebuilt/revived survivor, rust eliminated, grunge cleaned up, but.. lots of original patina?
Or would highest be with Fresh paint, polished and primped out with repop tires and gleaming chrome for a museum plinth?
My vote for the greatest bikes are the tidy revived #2 ready to rock n roll to Sturgis or the swap meet down the road.
I don’t plan on doing the 4 corners on my Chief any time soon. But, I know my bike will be up for it if the opportunity arises!
I would appreciate any comments that you may have to offer.
Value of our bikes is becoming more important as values continue to increase.
Many of us folk are working people, so this is even more important to have a good idea of value of our collected treasures.
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