1948 Indian Chief Bonneville -- Custom Restoration
This is a 1948 Indian Chief, 80 ci. Bonneville. The engine was built by famed Indian builder John Bivens. It has a custom electric start with 12 volt system by Tom Benson of Shelby, Montana.
This 1948 Indian Chief was apparently restored in the late 1970’s just before it was acquired by John Robertson, an avid collector of high-end sports cars and motorcycles. John split his time between Scottsdale, AZ, Jupiter Beach, FL, and Bigfork, MT. The earliest picture we have from the 80’s shows the bike parked on a Florida beach. The motorcycle resided in Montana from some time in the late 80’s until John’s untimely death in 2003, when it was acquired by its current owner, a close friend.
The motorcycle went through a refresh in 2000, with a complete engine rebuild by John Bivens of Indian Engineering (receipts and pics available), including expanding to 80 ci. with Bonneville heads, Carillo rods, S&S flywheels, JE Pistons, and a custom ground camshaft, etc. Total investment at the time was over $11 K. Paint was also re-done, and most of the original trim was retained. Total mileage since the rebuild is estimated at around 3500 miles, approximately 2000 of which were on the bike at acquisition in 2003. Unfortunately, the speedometer stopped working in 2011 when the odometer tumblers fell out at somewhere around 3000 miles.
Note/Paint & Sheet Metal -- As shown in the pictures: Wall scratch on left side of front fender. Burned spot on left cheek of original Indian head light on front fender, should be repairable (bulb was not changed when upgraded to 12V). 3/16 deep depression in left tank, approximately 3” diameter in the center of the Indian script, plus 3 more noticeable nicks in the paint of that tank. Scratches on the chain guard from the removed kick starter.
The bike pulls exceedingly strong and stops well. The Bonneville motor did require a “strong” right leg to get it started, so the current owner elected to have the electric starter installed. He also replaced the original buddy seat with a solo saddle from Heather’s Leathers. The original buddy seat is included with the sale. Cosmetics are good rider quality, with nice patina.
Estimated at 3,500 since rebuild/restoration. Speedo not working.
This bike was repainted during the restoration. Excellent paint and paint prep. Numerous scratches noted at this time from storage. Paint will shine right up with proper care.
Sheet metal is in excellent condition and well fit. No sign of any repairs made or needed. No dings or dents found. Close inspection reveals that most parts are original to the bike and year.
Most chrome was redone during the restoration and is excellent quality and in good condition. Some surface rust noted which should shine right up with Never Dull.
This motorcycle is in Excellent mechanical condition. It has great compression. The bike has been upgraded to an 80 cubic inch and electric start with 12-volt battery.
Wheels & Tires
Rims are chromed steel with chromed spokes and nipples.
Front Tire is Avon 500 X 16 serviceable.
Rear Tire is Avon 500 X 16 Wide Whitewall, date coded out, serviceable.
Clean Montana Title with current registration.
Engine # CDH 1983
Frame # unknown
Valuation Resource Guides:
Very Good: $21,740
Hagerty Value Guide:
#1 Concours $35,000
#2 Excellent $28,000
#3 Good $21,000
Original buddy seat and rider’s manual.