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Tuesday, January 17, 2017


About 2 or maybe was it 4 years ago while tramping through the Northeast I was trying to figure out where the Indian Motorcycle museum was? Indian was built in Springfield Massachusetts, but I could not confirm anything?
Indian production in Springfield was 1901-1953 and from 1974 until 2006 Esta K. Manthos built a virtual history of Indian Motorcycles and memorabilia which could be valued at almost $5 million.
At age 91 Esta made a decision to close the museum, but also decided to donate the entire collection to the Springfield History museum!
I am not sure why it was cloudy about the collection a few years back, but about 3 years later the new Indian Museum opened in 2009. I was not clear what to expect and saw 2 Indians perched in the visitor center next to the gift shop and still not sure?
Springfield Mass. is the home of many famous names of manufacturing including Corbin Electric bikes, Smith and Wesson and several cars as well! More on that next week! 

I turn the corner on the 2nd floor and was very impressed by the collection before me!
It is truly the Indian Motorcycle museum! 

All the stars rode Indians

Many records were set by female Indian riders
A fitting tribute to Esta and her collection in a museum where future generations can enjoy it forever I hope!
I just learned Esta Manthos passed away at age 101 November 2016! 

Indian Aircraft engine

Indian outboard boat engines 

Lets talk about Irwin Baker again or Cannonball as he was known, he was the torture test man and would often set records getting across the country so companies could boast about their prominence!! Yes the Cannonball run was named after his constant desire to move from one coast to another FAST!

Racing Indians were shipped in wood crates and yes that is an original one!

This next exhibit was a surprise and amazing! where was this engine placed?
Come one, come all and see the experimental 1928 Indian Roadster, huh? 

That cathedral trim in the grille are oil cooler lines for that V motorcycle engine 

It is thought that Indian looked at 2 existing small Roadsters to design this car

Sub-mini roadster examples that may have been the inspiration;
Austin 7
 American Bantam
 Nippy Roadster
 And one I wanted to hold for a special occasion the Ford Eifel a joint venture of Henry Ford and pre WWII NAZI Germany! 
 Finally the Ner a Car museum in Syracuse NY, huh?
I sort of knew I was going to a Leather Store although it was called a Museum for the Ner A Car motorcycle, the window displays almost qualified!
Frank Westfall is one the best known motorcycle collectors in the country 
There are motorcycles all over the store and parts!
One of the Ner A Cars
These are some very rare motorcycles here somewhere!

Ner A Car 2

Ner A Car 3
What is a Ner A Car you ask knowing I was going to tell you if want to hear it or not!
With about 10000 of them built in Syracuse NY I am surprised few have heard of them?
 The unusual design used a low slung frame making it as stable as a car while the clean design by Carl Neracher (his name was the inspiration for Ner A car) was appealing to lady riders. A friction drive with a constantly variable transmission.
 A Ner A Car dealership, the door reads Cannonball Baker and Co. so how many tanks of gas to the west coast at 100 MPG? Maybe not 100% confirmed, but he left Staten Island in 1922 and rode 3364.4 miles only consuming 45 gallons after arriving in Los Angeles with operating costs a staggering $20 it is said with gas just wasting under $12 of that!   
This is a dust free classic motorcycle!

I am glad I was on my way to the Northeast Classic Car Museum in Norwich because many of Frank's rare motorcycles are on display here!
1924 Henderson Frank Westfall completed the Cannonball run in 2012 on this- yes the cross-country race exists! 
1914 Emblem and rumored that a family of 4 traveled cross country on it!

And here they are!
1907 Curtiss - that's Glenn Curtiss more about him soon in another blog.

1905 Excelsior
1937 "upside down" Indian
1912 Heitchen
1910 Emblem
I just shot his "spaceship" as Frank calls it at the Raleigh NC Art museum exhibit
 He refers to this as his retirement fund and the smartest thing he ever bought!

 From time to time I am going to voice my opinion or rant at the end of some blogs, hey what the heck I have an audience right?
Some will be funny, some will be complaints and some will be a public service!
I have noticed over the years that many of my friends can not tell the difference between Orange and Red paint on some cars although there are blends in the middle range so I am glad to report every Autozone store has supplied us with a chart! As a guide Orange is the top color!
This was a public service and you are welcome!

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