Indian 1940 Model 340 Big Chief 1204 cc side valve v-twin frame # 346 6234 engine # CAV 1128 B
For model year 1940 the Indian company had thoroughly restyled their range in order to attract more customers. Streamlining was all the vogue and Indian proudly boasted that they were leaders in this respect. Notable features of the new models were the skirted fenders and the spring frame for the Four and the Big Chief. But there was much more: new cushioned saddle, lower saddle positions, new tire size, Purolator oil filter unit to make for cooler running of the engine to name just a few novelties. The 1940 season looked promising and the company had projected an output of some 5,000 machines. Early October 1939 it became clear that the output was going to be substantially more, because the French army had placed an order of no less than 5,000 Big Chief sidecar combinations. The French wanted a motor cycle with a sidecar to transport 3 soldiers, so the combinations had to be fitted with a pillion seat. The order was for standard machines, without accessories and adapted fenders for military use. Although the order caused great joy in the financial department, the logistics people found themselves facing an enormous challenge; American dealers and their customers were eagerly awaiting their new 1940 Chiefs ..…Most machines reached France before the German invasion in 1940. A number of them were destroyed but quite a few brand new 340s found their way into the German army. They were used extensively and a number of them ended up on the Eastern front. When a “Russian” 340 crossed the path of Belgian motorcycle enthusiast Martin M. Bogaert he got fascinated by the French army Indians and he myths surrounding them. His “Quest for the holy CAV” turned into a tough crusade, but it resulted in the very fascinating book“: An American in Paris, the story of the Indian 74 Model 340.” More than 300 pages of in-depth information, a quite outstanding book.
This mighty 340 has been restored in civilian guise but has not been used for quite some time so it will benefit from a good check over.