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Thread: 1951 Chief

  1. #1

    1951 Chief

    Would like some opinion on the 1951 Chief. Are they more or less sought after then earlier or later year Chiefs? Would there be any reason someone would not want a 51 model? I have a chance to buy a 51 Chief project. Is there anything I that might want to look for that might make me change my mind? I think its fairly complete and has not been on the road for a very long time. Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    Re: 1951 Chief

    Jocoknuck, I have a '50 and the '51 is basically the same bike, one year newer. The Blackhawk 80" engine is a very nice flathead. Not hard to kick over at all. The hydraulic front end is smooth. Together with the spring rear end and the spring seat, the overall ride is very nice. The '52 and '53 are slightly different than the '50-'51's. Indian lowered the muffler and I have heard that right hand turns can have issues because of it. The speedometer cable was moved from the front wheel without removing the boss and that is a little unsightly, and the distributor has a cover that is...well, I'm glad it's incorrect for a '50. I enjoy my Indian very much and it is quite the conversation starter. I don't have a negative thing to say about it at all. Good luck and post photo's if you get it.
    '41 FL
    '50 Chief
    '64 FL
    '42 WLA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Apache Junction, Arizona

    Re: 1951 Chief

    Jocoknuck I don’t have a ‘51 but I have had a plunger Chief with a hydraulic frontend and an 80” motor. I echo what Fabe says. You get the best of it all. The bike feels big and heavy and very smooth. The reality is it is lighter than it feels- and surprisingly agile. The best part is they are really easy to kick over. If you have trouble starting one either your carb is way off or your ignition is weak. Mine was a 2 kicker most of the time right leg or left. Despite the low compression (compared to like a Pan) they pull like a train. I used to ride mine up the mountain from my house at 7000 feet elevation to the summit at 8300 feet in about 4 miles through 10-12 pretty sharp curves. I could make the entire climb in 3rd gear including 20mph curves. You’d never regret it.

  4. #4

    Re: 1951 Chief

    The 51 and 52 are quite rare with only about 500 of each year made. I also like the 50 and 51 better without the lowered muffler and without a cover on the distributor.

  5. #5

    Re: 1951 Chief

    ....and pretty well supported by Greer's and others, because after all, have you ever seen a basket case that was 100% complete?
    1946 Chief - take apart and put back together
    101 Scout - building stage

  6. #6

    Re: 1951 Chief

    I own a 51 too ...Pure honey|

  7. Re: 1951 Chief

    The 1950 Chiefs were built in two batches of 500. The first batch went from CEJ1001 to CEJ1500 engine with 3501001 to 3501500 frame. The second batch went from C-2001 to C-2500 engine with C-2001 to C-2500 frame. The 1951 Chiefs were built in one batch of 500. The batch went from C-4001 to C-4500 engine with C-4001 to C-4500 frame. Many of the second batch 1950 Chiefs are called 1951 Chiefs. Registration/title issues from State to State likely led to irregularities in the year a particular machine was called.
    From the Engineering Parts List (EPL) dated December 1, 1950; "Production of the 350 Chief ceased with the completion of 60 machines for the New York Police. The last 350 Model engine number was C-2500 and the 351 will start with C-4001." Of the last 60 1950 Chiefs built; C-2440 through C-2500, only a few engines and frames survive - mainly as just parts.
    The total of all 1950 and 1951 Chiefs adds up to 1,500 machines. As of June, 2018; 157 of these machines are known to survive in some condition. The true number of survivors is probably closer to 200 machines.
    The C-2000 series machines and C-4000 series machines do have a dash in both the engine and frame serial numbers. This dash was not present in the 1940s machines or in the later 1952-53 machines. One of the few earlier years that used a dash in the engine serial number was 1939.
    The serial number system change in the middle of the 1950 Chief production run was mirrored in the Vertical Indian serial number systems.
    One of the stranger oddities of the 1951 Chief, is that there was a batch of machines from approximately C-4060 to approximately C-4090 that were sold to Iran. The President of the U.S. at the time; Harry S.Truman is believed to have approved that sale. At the time, the ruler of Iran was Shah Pahlavi. Ultimately Shah Pahlavi was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It is believed that the thirty or so decommissioned machines were eventually sold in a couple of batches, to Scandinavian countries. A few of these machines survive to this day. No photos of the machines during their service in Iran have surfaced.

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