Sailing without a Flagship
Without having a modern power plant to drive their flagship Chief, Indian were left with a problem.
Actually Indian had a very inexpensive solution to the big V-twin problem in 1949, literally in their hands, but they failed to take advantage of it…
In 1948 they had sent a stock Chief to the Vincent Company in England to see if the super powerful ultra-modern Vincent V twin engine and gearbox would fit in the Chief rolling chassis. The Vincent engineers under Phil Vincent got to work and accomplished the task swiftly.
The OHV engine and its 4 speed foot shift gearbox was ‘shoe horned’ into the Chief chassis with no major frame changes. Even the stock generator drive setup with its belt and tin cover fitted within the available space. The exhaust routing also was in keeping with the lines of the original Chief styling.
At a glance you wouldn’t know that the Vincent engine didn’t belong in the Chief chassis.
Although the fastest Vincent engines (the Black Shadow and the rare Black Lightning racer) were not reliable for everyday use, especially when the greater demands for higher mileage on the American
roads was taken into account, the Rapide version was. Although timid compared to a Black Shadow, the Rapide was more sprightly than the Chief engine and so an improvement overall.
The Blue Vindian here in the photograph is a re-creation of the original, painstakingly done by Wigwam Engineering of Australia.
Both the English and US companies tested the prototype and found it satisfactory, but neither the Indian company or the Vincent Company invested further to bring the prototype into production.
With sale of the Chief in the US proving to be poor and on a downward trend, the decision to shelve the Vindian would prove to be a mistake. Similarly the Vincent Company is likely to have profited from the Vindian, however shortly after the decision, the Vincent Company ceased trading.