Lot 325

Dare to Dream Collection

1935 Indian Dispatch Tow


$54,000 USD | Sold

Canada | Toronto, Ontario



Frame No.
Engine No.
FCE 435
US Title
  • Indian’s rarely seen alternative to the Harley-Davidson Servi-Car
  • 45-cu. in. air-cooled V-twin engine; distinctive three-wheel configuration with rear axle and leaf spring
  • Intended for the auto service industry; designed to be towed behind a customer car!
Please note, this lot is located in Canada and import duty will be applicable to all countries outside of Canada, including the United States. RM Sotheby’s will be available to assist buyers with importation to the United States.

In 1931, the Indian Motocycle Company of Springfield, Massachusetts introduced the Dispatch Tow, a motorcycle designed to meet the highly specific, somewhat quaint, needs of the era’s automotive dealership industry in an unexpected way. As the story goes, a cost-conscious local Packard dealer was tired of using two mechanics to bring cars to and from customers’ homes to the shop for service. Sensing opportunity, Indian quickly developed its popular Scout model into the Dispatch Tow, a three-wheeled machine with a rear axle featuring a differential mounted on a single transverse leaf spring.

Although the timing of the story is somewhat questionable (Indian was apparently experimenting with three-wheeled vehicles at this point well before any Packard dealers entered the picture), the Dispatch Tow did incorporate an interesting feature: A tow bar that attached near the motorcycle’s front wheel. The idea was that, instead of using two mechanics for customer-car pickup and drop-off, a dealership could send one man on a Dispatch Tow; once at the customer’s house, he would deploy the Indian’s tow bar, bolt it temporarily to the customer car’s rear bumper, and drive himself and the motorcycle to the service garage. After the service work was complete, he would simply reverse the process. Presumably this labor-saving innovation would quickly pay for itself—at least if the Indian salesman was to be believed!

Indian did not produce many examples of the Dispatch Tow, but the concept did have some merit: Competitor Harley-Davison followed Indian’s lead when it introduced the Servi-Car in 1932; the Harley-Davidson trike would remain in production for decades. The Indian version, however, is far rarer, and the seldom-seen surviving examples are eagerly sought by collectors today.

This 1935 Dispatch Tow, which retains its correct 45-cubic-inch air-cooled Indian V-twin engine, was acquired by the Dare to Dream Collection out of California in 2014. Previously restored, it remains in highly presentable overall condition, though there is a tear on its leather saddle. In March 2018, it benefitted from carburetor service, the sealing of its gas tanks, and other work noted by an invoice on file, after which it was returned to static display.

An intriguing curiosity from one of America’s great motorcycle manufacturers, this 1935 Indian Dispatch Tow may never again do duty at a dealership…but it will no doubt serve as a faithful conversation starter in your collection, parked beside—if not bolted to the rear bumper of—a Packard or American classic of your choice.