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1941 Indian Four Barn Find Shines Its Wartime Spirit From Under a Blanket of Rust

More than a century of car and motorcycle making left behind mountains of junk we have little use for. Given how for the longest part of this period humans did not recycle or re-use the materials that went into making such machines, most of them are still lying around out there somewhere, rotting away as time moves over them. Lost in these mostly hidden-from-sight piles of trash there are at times true treasures, just waiting to be uncovered by curious eyes.
1941 Indian Four barn find 14 photos
Photo: Mecum
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We call these abandoned, but potentially valuable cars and motorcycles barn finds. Some people, like Mike Wolfe, have dedicated their lives to tracking down these items, fueled in their passion by the existence of an entire, solid market for such objects of value.

Wolfe started being a public figure in 2010, when he began filming a reality show called American Pickers. Presently airing on the History Channel, the series is a public favorite, as it shows a crew of people passionate about antiques traveling across America in search of lost or forgotten gems.

As most of you already know, Wolfe is out for anything that may have a bit of value, but his passion for motorcycles makes these two-wheeled contraptions a prime target for his quests. Unlike what happens with some of the other things he uncovers and then sells, most of these bikes enter his private collection, and are seldom taken out. They will soon, as a good chunk of them (read some 70 motorcycles) will be selling at a Mecum auction in late January, on the floor of the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The long list of rides includes this here 1941 Indian Four, a machine so rare it will most likely make a lot of people drool over it, both in person and online. Sure, it looks beat down and decrepit now, but that will probably not stop anyone with a big enough passion from going for it.

1941 Indian Four barn find
Photo: Mecum
The Indian Four is one of the most famous models made by Harley-Davidson’s biggest rival, and it arrived onto the market in 1928 as an offshoot of the Ace. Despite being born at a time when the Great Depression was taking its toll on human life and businesses, it stuck as America’s most luxurious motorcycle and punched through those difficult years.

It would take a global conflict to stop the Four in its tracks. America’s entry in the Second World War meant that the sale of the bike to civilians ceased in 1942, but it was actually the previous year that saw the Four being made for the masses for the last time.

That makes this two-wheeler part of the final batches of Fours ever made. Its history is not known, but Wolfe uncovered it somewhere at the border between Nebraska and Colorado. Like all the other bikes he found over the years, he did nothing to bring it to a more cared-for state.

As such, the Indian is almost eaten away by rust. We see the stuff abundantly spread over the skirted fenders (one of the defining elements introduced in 1941), which back in their day were a symbol of this particular ride, on the cross-laced metal wires on the wheels, and on the most important mechanical bits, the engine, transmission, and exhaust.

1941 Indian Four barn find
Photo: Mecum
Speaking of engine, the bike still holds in its frame the 77ci inline four-cylinder that made the breed famous. It’s doubtful the unit still runs, but even if it did it, wouldn’t do the bike any good, given the deflated, borderline useless state of the thing’s tires.

Back in its day, the engine was controlled by a tank-shifted transmission, and that’s still on there as well. So are the guards for the engine and rear fender, the handlebar-mounted mirror, and the horn.

The bike's original two-tone green and white paint can still be seen on the fenders and fuel tank, lost in a sea of rust. Less visible, but still there, are the suspension bits, which were also introduced at about the same time this bike was made. We’re talking about the leaf spring suspension at the front and the plunger one at the rear.

As you already know from earlier this week, when we presented the 1938 Harley-Davidson UL Bob-Job Wolfe is also selling in Vegas, the group of bikes this Indian is part of is called the As Found Collection.

The Four is also going under the hammer with no reserve, meaning the one bidding the most for it will get it, no matter the sum. There is no estimate as to how much the bike is expected to fetch, and we also have mixed feelings about its future: do we want it restored to its former glory, converted into a custom, or simply left as is as a testament to times, people, and machines that are long gone?
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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