Ace Motorcycle Predecessor to Indian Four

Dustin Woods
by Dustin Woods

Designs from 1919 found in the trash

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This old adage has never been more accurate than when describing a rare collection of motorcycle drawings from 1919 that were recently found in a trash bin.
Created in 1919 by William Henderson, a man considered by many to be America’s most impressive motorcycle designer, this rare collection of original drawings depict the design of a brand known as the Ace, which later became part of the Indian Motorcycle Co.

During the early years of the last century, many automotive and motorcycle manufacturing companies went out of business or were bought up by stronger ones. Henderson’s bikes had a reputation for being quality four-cylinder motorcycles which were then added to Schwinn’s Excelsior line after he sold his company to Ignatius Schwinn.

Not long after, Henderson began planning his next project, the Ace. On Dec. 11th 1922, Henderson was test riding the new Ace and was struck by a car and killed. Slowly the loss of momentum, direction and financing led to the company being dismantled with the rights being bought by the Indian Motorcycle Co., America’s largest motorcycle manufacturer at the time.

Indian originally produced the bike as the Ace, then Indian Ace, and finally as their own brand, the Indian Four. These drawings, approximately 400 pages worth were assumed to have been lost or destroyed when Indian went out of business in the 1950’s.

Amazingly, Indian’s new owner, Bill Melvin, came across the drawings as they were being placed in a dumpster and headed for a land fill. Signed and dated by William Henderson and his assistant, Arthur Lemon, the well-preserved documents still reside within their original envelopes.

Nearly lost forever, these drawings will instead be sold at the Mid-America Auction, which will be held at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas on January 10th 2009.

Dustin Woods
Dustin Woods

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