Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sparto taillight was an Indian Apache original

The Sparto "limp dick" was one of the most distinctive taillight designs ever.
A 1958 Indian dealer memo posted on the BritBike forum seems to finally answer the question about the role of the Sparto taillight on Royal Enfield motorcycles rebadged as Indians for sale in the United States in the 1950s.

Posted by "Pender," a BritBike forum member from Iowa, the memo "clears up whether the 'limp dick' light was stock or not," commented member Chris Overton.

Dealer advisory shows
Sparto taillight.
The accessories bulletin, dated July 31, 1957, refers to the "limp dick" taillight as the "California Taillight" and offers it in chrome or aluminum.

Dealers are advised that the taillight is "to be standard equipment in chrome finish on the 1958 Apache — get a good supply for those riders who will wish to up-grade their older machines."

The document emerged during a discussion of the Indian Apache, a rare model of the Royal Enfield 700cc twin that appeared in the U.S. as a fast, lightweight bike that could quickly be stripped of lights for racing.

A 1959 Indian brochure described it as "a tuned sport edition" and shows it with no tail light at all!

Most of the forum discussion dealt with the Apache's odd (and seemly unsupported) unsprung rear fender. The floating rear fender was apparently a short lived feature.

Pender is a student of the Apache, and contributed information about variations in Apache bodywork and mechanical bits.

1959 Indian Apache brochure shows no taillight at all.
"These details are all gleaned from magazines, ads, brochures, catalogs, and parts books. We all know that Enfield (in the UK or U.S.) could have changed any of these details on a whim, both before and after the sale..." he wrote.

"I agree that the Apache is the true predecessor to the 700 and 750 Interceptors. It was the Americanized Constellation, and, in my opinion, the coolest of all Enfields."

A Sparto taillight peeks out on left in photo of
the late George Helms and his Apache.

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