Steve McLaughlin’s 1946 Indian Chief

Story by Jerrette Kamaka
Photos by Jerrette Kamaka
July 18, 2008
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This is one of a handful of Indian motorcycles you’ll see screaming down the streets of Oahu. Steve McLaughlin acquired this bike four years ago from a museum that closed in Buffalo, New York.

“Shipping the bike was a nightmare. It got lost twice so you want to pick your motorcycle shippers,” says McLaughlin. “It was in a museum for 20 years, so when I got it, I tore it down completely except for the basic engine case. And with a set of Sears tools I did a frame up restoration.”

The Indian motorcycle became popular with the public since the release of the movie The World’s Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro. One day while in Kailua McLaughlin was approached by someone’s grandmother, and she began to tell him a story she has about an Indian.

“She told me her life story and that her boyfriend during World War II had a bike just like this,” recalls McLaughlin. “She was a nurse at the time and she used to stomp on the pedal with both feet in order to kick-start it for him, and they rode all over the place. So I offered her a ride on the bike, and her family followed us in their van around Lanikai.”

McLaughlin plans on taking this bike to heaven with him and is putting together an Indian motorcycle club. He can be reached at

Owner – Steve McLaughlin

YEAR – 1946.

MAKE – Indian Motorcycle

MODEL –  Chief

ENGINE 74 ci stroked to 84 ci, 550 pounds, 57 hp, Bonneville racing cams. Bonneville Linkert racing carb, 41mm Keihin, dry sump oil system with automobile oil filter kit.

DRIVETRAIN Chain drive, 3 speed crashbox, foot clutch, hand shifter,

SUSPENSION Rear spring-shock suspension, seat spring post with shock system, and girder front end with Monroe shock absorber, front suspension adjustable neck post tensioner

WHEELS Stock Indian 16-inch laced wheels, tubed white wall tires, 5.60x16 with 22 pounds air rear, 18 pounds in front.

ELECTRONICS Three wires, belt-driven generator/alternator, 12v conversion with Chevy Sprint alternator, high-performance coil, electronic points dropped into distributor cap.

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Most Recent Comment(s):

Great to see this profile on your Indian Chief. Jerrette Kamaka’s photos are wonderful. That is one pretty pony! But you forgot to mention that her name is Sioux!  Readers might like to hear more about the adventures of your expanding Indian motorcycle fan club.
Here’s the link to the full story “Tutu Takes a ride” posted in Hawaii Health Guide.

Summer in Hawaii is such a perfect time for a motorcycle ride. Look forward to seeing her glossy red coat gleaming under the next Hawaiian full moon too! Thanks for spreading a special kind of aloha with your bike.

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