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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Royal Enfield Super Meteor Chief has
new owner looking for information

A motorcycle called a "Super Meteor Chief" recently showed up for sale in an eBay ad listed on this blog. I didn't know anything about it except that a Super Meteor was a pretty special Royal Enfield twin, and a Chief was a pretty special Indian motorcycle built by Royal Enfield and sold in the United States in the 1950s.

The owner, in New York, seemed to possess documentation of what he had, so I didn't question why an Indian Chief would have "Royal Enfield" on the tank.

The motorcycle disappeared from eBay, but the new owner has now brought it to my attention in an email. Jaak Eijkelenberg of the Netherlands wrote that he had been inspired to seek out an Indian motorcycle by a visit to the museum and workshop of Tony "Indian" Leenes, in Lemmer, the Netherlands.

Leenes' passion is customizing and restoring Indian motorcycles. He builds custom Indians to order; projects can take a year to complete but the goal is getting "that last detail" perfect.

Eijkelenberg wrote:

"My name is Jaak (Jack). I'm 53 and live in the Netherlands, close to the borders of Belgium and Germany. I’m married and we have one daughter. My hobby is the '50s and '60s, so we own a ’62 T-Bird, ’65 Corvair, and a Harley Road King. The house we live in includes jukeboxes from the '50s. I’m lucky because my lovely wife Linda likes these things too.

"A few months ago we drove the Harley to Tony 'Indian' Leenes' museum in the Netherlands. He has restored a Royal Enfield Indian Woodsman. On the way home the bike was still in my mind. Looking again and again at pictures of that Enfield over the next few days I made myself a promise to buy just such a bike.

"The chance to buy one came very quick. I was looking on eBay USA and saw an Enfield that was good for such a project. The owner wrote on eBay:

"'Up for bid is a 1959 Royal Enfield Indian I've owned for 28 years. This bike ran up 'til day I parked it in the garage some 15 years ago. Not running now; did not even try. I do have a full front fender but no correct rear. No gauges but everything on motor, brakes and drive train are there. Title is clear. I have info on the correct dating of this bike: it was a late 1958 early '59 Chief sent to Brockhouse, England, engine number SM9196 and frame number 7550. This bike is one of only eight Super Meteor Chiefs and is the last model number of the batch.'"

The eBay ad even included a photo of documents clearly referring to a Super Meteor Chief, but not laying out what the difference may be between a Super Meteor Chief and any other Chief.

Eijkelenberg, it turns out, has the same sort of question I did about the Super Meteor Chief:

"I would like to see an original picture of what it looked liked from the factory in 1959," he wrote.

Based on what he finds out, he hopes to have Tony Leenes rebuild it for him with a little of the Old School bobber look.

I asked Chris Overton, a close observer of Royal Enfield twins, about the bike. He replied:

"The Enfield logo on the tank is custom painting and as Enfield as the headlight bracket.  Over the last 50 years the identities of many bikes has blurred.  After all, without the tank badges it is hard to tell.  A fellow in Michigan recently bought a Trailblazer that turned out to be a Chief from the serial numbers. I bought an Indian Westerner and found from the Club's records it is an even rarer Enfield Fury."

Can any of you readers provide some guidance?


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