|Vaughn Monroe's Indian Warrior motorcycle is in the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Fla.|
Stuffed into a corner under a stairwell in the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Fla. is one of these rarely seen but probably not very coveted motorcycles: a 1951 Indian Warrior — a pristine, unrestored original with only 426 miles on it.
It's not one of the legendary Indian straight-fours or famous V-twin models with swooping fenders enclosing the wheels. The 1951 Warrior is a 500cc vertical twin.
Indian badly needed new products to survive, but these vertical cylinder models were underdeveloped and fragile. Instead of saving the company, they took it down. One online history of Indian refers to these events as "The Warrior Debacle."
So... um... what's this Warrior doing in a museum?
The answer is that it was donated in 1969 by a famous local resident, singer and bandleader Vaughn Monroe. Monroe had many hits, among them his 1956 version of the motorcycle ballad "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots." The "teenage tragedy" song told the story of a "fool" motorcyclist who rides to his doom on Highway 101.
The chorus ("He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots and a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back") virtually set the dress code for dare-devil motorcyclists.
Monroe was photographed riding an Indian, reportedly for publicity shots for the song.
|Dressed for the part: Vaughn Monroe.|
In the studio parking lot he noticed all the stars rode motorcycles — so he got one. This eventually led to a long and friendly association with Indian. The company presented him with more than one motorcycle, the last of them perhaps this 1951 Warrior.
Monroe died in 1973, and is buried in Stuart.