Saturday, 10 October 2015

1951 Indian “Rainbow” Chief at the National Motorcycle Museum

1951 Indian “Rainbow” Chief
at the National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa, IA

With the exception of 1949 when manufacturing was suspended for Indian’s work on the new and ill-fated OHV engines, the Chief was Indian’s big road going machine from the 1920’s up until the end in 1953.

Available in 1923, the Chief at 61 cubic inches, and Big Chief at 74 cubic inches were Indian’s replacement for the Powerplus. Frames were lowered a bit, but rear suspension did not return until 1940 when the magnificent skirted fender Chief arrived. This is the model that made Indian a famous and lasting motorcycle brand. Even the 2014 Chief from Polaris plays heavily on the 1940’s Chief design.

Indian front suspension also went through some changes. The leaf spring and link design used for so long gave way to the handsome girder design. Then about 1950, the telescopic fork was 

employed a year after Harley switched from the “springer” to the hydraulic fork making the Hydra-Glide in 1949. For 1950 the Chief engine was stroked to give it a 1300 cc, or 80 cubic inch displacement, and tank badges reflected this increase. Changes were made to the front fender, fuel tank and other sheet metal refining the classic look in its final days.

This “Rainbow” Chief was specially painted by Bob Stark, a longtime Indian dealer. The two colors fading together and pinstriping carried on some of the DuPont era interest in color.

from the Rocky Halter Collection

National Motorcycle Museum Founded in 1989
 National Motorcycle Museum Information:  

Hours: Mon-Sun 9 AM - 5 PM
Phone and E-Mail
Phone: (319) 462-3925 E-mail:

Museum: 102 Chamber Drive Anamosa, IA 52205
Mailing: PO Box 405 Anamsoa, IA 52205

The National Motorcycle Museum is open seven days a week, year around. Museum members are admitted free. Becoming a member is quick and easy. Admission is only $8.00 except during special events. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.  

The National Motorcycle Museum is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation. 
For more information, email the Museum at or 
call 319 462 3925. 

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