The Chief Ambassador
By Bryan Fuller
‘Old Fusion Style’
Published by Cyril Huze September 24th, 2012
I love it when custom builders start a project working with parts from different OEM manufacturers, parts that were never supposed to meet on the same motorcycle. Take the best of 2 different brands, mix with talent their unique styles and components, make them compatible and the result of this approach is probably going to be very interesting, both aesthetically and technologically.
It’s exactly what Bryan Fuller of Fuller Hot Rods did with this Chief Ambassador, building a very cool bare metal machine mixing parts and powertrain from 2 iconic brands and motorcycle models: the classical Indian Chief body work from Indian and the driveline of the Moto Guzzi V-Twin
In America, nothing more iconic than the Indian Chief fenders and famous head-dress logo emblem. In Italy, no engine symbolizes more Moto Guzzi than the V-Twin engine designed by Giulio Cesare Carcano. The engine, an air-cooled, longitudinal crankshaft, transverse cylinder, pushrod V-twin began life with 700 cc displacement and 45 hp and was designed to give Moto Guzzi renewed race competitiveness. It was redesigned in 1971.
Bryan Fuller gathered the Indian parts primarily from a gentleman in Alabama whose father had collected Indians starting in the 50′s. He picked a 1933-34 frame because it was 1 of only 2 hardtails he had (The big springs on the side of the 40′s frames are just big and ugly to him). He then rummaged through parts and grabbed random front and rear fenders, gas tank, and front girder fork.
Because the 33 frame has a longer neck than the 40′s by about 1.5″, the fork had to be stretched. Then after setting the bike at correct ride height, Bryan noticed that for proper stance 2″ had to be removed above the axle in the factory welding location. Old Harley’s and Indian’s had what it seems like 2″ of clearance between tires and fenders! Something irritating Bryan who set the front fender about 1/2″ off the tire and moved it back so it fits nice on the front edge. This also required 2″ to be removed off of the bottom edge. Sides were removed and bead rolled to add some extra detail as well as adding a 1/4″ rod to nicely finish the edge. Rear fender got the same couture treatment which really lowers the rear of the bike for a more “tail-draggin” stance. Taillight is an old 30′s Plymouth unit Bryan had laying around in his stash pile from swap meets. He also modified a 1939 Ford LED light to use as the guts and it’s now really bright for a change! Seat is a reproduction Indian unit with 304 Stainless twisted and wrapped around the perimeter. Springs are from a mountain bike. Pipes are JD Harley with stock Guzzi head pipe.
But why in the world is there a Moto Guzzi drivetrain in there? Bryan Fuller could have used a Kiwi Indian or a Knucklehead engine (imagine the offense to the HD crowd..) But a 1969 Moto Guzzi Ambassador motor is cheap, good looking motor, visually weird enough to be a winner in such a custom project… As a matter of fact, and a lot of folks don’t know this , there is a precedent for a longitudinal V-Twin with Shaft Drive during this Indian period. There were 500 military versions of the Indian 841 produced in 1941. Did, at the time, Guzzi copy it? Possible. Anyway, Bryan picked up a low miles 750 cc donor for $3000. It ran good, shifted well and only leaked a little… Engine, tranny, carbs, intakes, hand controls, foot controls, front and rear hubsgas caps were scavaged. All for only $3000!”Its crazy how good this stuff worked together!” told me Bryan.
But after 250 miles in Texas and 700 in Sturgis he realized how under powered his “Indian/Guzzi” was. So, returning from South Dakota, the motor was dropped at Jon Kaase’s shop to be bumped up to a 1000 cc’s. Because there is an 850 of the same model which has a different crank, one was sourced and it will get bored. Bryan will get back his creation just on time for this year’s SEMA show where the new engine will be debuted. Check it out if you go to Las Vegas.
Bryan Fuller opened his shop in downtown Atlanta, GA in 2005. Fuller Hot Rods has been featured on the “Biker Build-Off” which aired on TLC, as well as “Over-Haulin” on the Discovery Channel. Bryan is currently the co-host of “Two Guys Garage” on the Speed Channel. Bryan Fuller Hot Rods. (photography copyright Kevin Warren, Digital Press Images, courtesy to Cyril Huze)
. 1933 Indian Frame • 1940-46 Indian Chief Sheetmetal • 1969 Moto Guzzi Ambassador Drivetrain – Engine/Transmission/Shaft Drive • Moto Guzzi Drum Brakes, Headlight, Gas Caps and Petcocks, Hand and Foot Controls and Stash Box • JD Harley-Davidson Muffl ers • Finished bike completed over 800 trouble-free miles at Sturgis 2012 • Many thanks to Jon Kaase Racing for increasing horsepower output • Welded primarily with a Lincoln Electric Precision TIG® 225