Bike of the Month
1968 American Indian
By Jim Meadows
My 1968 American Indian “Stroker” Scout was the first motorcycle that I ever purchased. My brother and I were raised on a ranch in eastern Nevada and I moved to Reno after high school to attend the University of Nevada, pre-UNR. After a while, about 1972, it was time to buy a motorcycle.
Our cousin lived in Santa Cruz and had a Triumph Daytona 500 that he had purchased new! He knew of a hippy living in the Santa Cruz Mountains that had two motorcycles for sale, a Triumph Bonneville and an Indian Scout. I didn’t know much about Indians, only that they were made in America and that they were no longer being produced. The two bikes were parked outside and were starting to rust a bit, “Five hundred dollars, your choice”, the hippy said. I bought the Indian.
The story was that the Scout was put together in Los Angeles, and the first buyer returned it because it vibrated too much. My cousin hauled it to Reno in his El Camino and I had a bike to ride. I remember a small fire on the handlebars when the dimmer switch shorted out.
After some time, I took it apart over the winter to clean it up and replace the paint. I replaced the front fender, which was a rusty, cracked chrome accessory type of thing. Someone in Oakland had a bunch of new BSA parts and a new BSA Rocket 3 fender was purchased. The rusty stamped tin license plate/taillight mount also got replaced. Over the first couple of years, the Autolite generator quit every summer so it was replaced with a VW Bosch unit. Other than the fender, license plate mount, and generator, paint and wiring, it is pretty much as it was when I purchased it in 1972. Oh, the baffle in the muffler came lose on a ride somewhere close to Sonora once, so that got replaced too.
In the summer of 1967, July, my then wife and I, along with Jerry and Patti Meadows and Ray and Pam Horstmeyer were motorcycle camping off of Highway 49. The following April, I became a daddy. You do the math. The wife is gone, but I still have the Scout and the daughter.
So about this bike that I have been riding for the past 45 years or so. In 1968, Sam Pierce, AKA Mister Indian, had an Indian parts business in Los Angeles, San Gabriel I believe. He had bought up Indian parts all over the country to keep those old Indians running. He had enough parts to assemble about 109 motorcycles, the American Indian Super Scouts.
The Super Scouts were known as “American Indian’s”, to avoid any quarrels over the Indian name, which I think was claimed by Floyd Clymer at the time. Floyd was importing and selling Indian badged English, Italian and Taiwanese Indian’s.
All Super Scouts had Scout v-twin engines in a postwar Warrior chassis. I have read that the factory assembled one or two prototypes of this configuration. Pierce’s Super Scouts were built in four sizes:
30.50 cubic inch (500cc) with a 741 military Scout engine
37 cubic inch (650cc), a 741 military Scout engine with Indian 4 pistons
45 Cubic inch (750cc) with a Scout engine
57 cubic inch (934cc), a 45 ci Scout engine with Chief flywheels
Mine is a 57 incher with a 2 7/8” bore and 4 ¼” stroke. It does vibrate a bit. After a year of riding it on the highway, I would have to replace the mirrors because the silver would fall off.
All of the Super Scouts differ in details, like tanks and seats. I have seen a 30.50 with a girder front end, but most have a Warrior fork and brake with a 741 rear wheel. Mine is equipped with a “peanut” tank, “cobra” seat, suicide clutch and jockey shift. As far as I know, all have the unique aluminum cover on the right side of the engine and the custom made casting to drive the generator from the back of the primary cover, like a Chief.
The defining point is “AIMCO”, American Indian Motorcycle Company, on the engine casting. The serial numbers are two digits for the year, two digits for the engine size, and two digits for the build number. My Super Scout VIN number is 685725. I was told that only twenty-seven 57 inchers were built.
The July 1969 issue of Cycle Guide magazine, which was reprinted in the July 1996 Walneck’s Classic Cycle Trader, has an article on Sam Pierce and his business. It says he would build a new Scout for $995.
The second motorcycle I ever purchased was a 1958 Ariel 650 twin that I gave to Jerry. I also paid $500 for the Ariel. Jerry can tell you about it.
Jim Meadows and American Indian Super Scout
The 1 Moto Show , Portland, Oregon, 2019