Indian started up in 1901, two years before Harley-Davidson, its great rival, but a post- war slump forced the production line in Springfield, Massachusetts, to shut in 1953. Now, perfectly restored models can cost more than pounds 15,000 and need careful maintenance.
Motolux, opened six months ago, fulfils Mr Forbes's dream 'to own a motorcycle emporium that goes back in time, like the bikes themselves'. This home of the brave - the logo is the face of a warrior wearing a feather headdress - is crammed with memorabilia and parts. Some of it dates from a collection Mr Forbes began as a teenager. But it is more than a museum - he and his staff restore, service and sell models including twin-cylinder Scouts and Chiefs, and the rarer four-cylinder 1200cc bikes worth about pounds 25,000.
Mr Forbes believes over 1,000 Indians survive in Britain, many obtained from former US military bases, and he owns 30 which he rides himself. A British owners' club has several hundred members. Reports that a new generation of Scouts may soon go into production in New Mexico do not impress the man at Motolux. 'I think it's just using the badge, it's a cash-in on the romanticism of the classic bike scene,' Mr Forbes said. For him the only good Indian is an old one.
Photograph: David Ashdown
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content