1948 Indian 648 Big Base Scout

1948 Indian 648 'Big Base' Scout, also known as the 'Daytona Scout'
It’s hard to believe this racebike was built sixty years ago. But it was so far ahead of its time, it was still winning races in the 70s. It’s thought that only seven factory Big Base ‘Daytona’ Scouts still exist; this particular one went under the hammer in 2008. The ‘Big Base’ Indian 648s were the ultimate development of flathead engine technology, with high-dome pistons carrying two compression rings and one oil ring. The name came from the huge oil capacities, because the bikes were fitted with extra-large sumps designed to help engines cope with the stresses of racing. According to Indian specialist Dave ‘Huggy Bear’ Hansen, of The Shop in Ventura, California: “The Big Base was Indian’s swan song for its racing career. They combined all the good things the privateers were doing prior to World War II, and put it all together in one bike and it turned out to be a winner.” Many components were off-the-shelf: the three-speed drivetrain was lifted from late-model Indian Sport Scouts. Number 41 was restored by Jim Suter and returned to Daytona in the 80s to win two trophies in the AHRMA series. It’s hard to quibble with the auctioneer’s notes: “Professionally restored and exceedingly rare, it is highly desirable and tremendously capable.” The bike sold for US$165,000, including the 10% buyer premium. [Many thanks to Steve Plowman of Strathbran Speed Shop. Bike sold by RM Auctions at the “Joe’s Garage—The MacPherson Collection” auction in June, 2008. Photo: Simon Clay/RM Auctions.]