BY KELLEY CHAMBERS
Automobile Alley welcomed a different kind of vehicle dealership in May when Scott Conway opened a branch of Indian Motorcycle at 7 NE 10th St.
Autos might reign supreme in the Alley, but Conway hopes the roar of motorcycles will soon be a common sound coming from his dealership. Since he opened, there have been many curious tire-kickers and others who stopped in for items like tires and took a cycle for a test drive and ended up riding home on their new Indians.
Conway spent more than 30 years of his career with General Motors. Originally from Wisconsin, he moved around the country for work before retiring after his final stint in Oklahoma City. But he was no stranger to motorcycles.
“I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was seven years old,” he said.
In addition to Conway, he brought along childhood friend Kevin Behle, whom he appointed service manager, and Conway’s son, Brendon, to work at the shop. There are six employees in all.
The Indian Motorcycle brand dates back to 1901, but the company folded in the 1950s. Over the years, a few fly-bynight efforts were made to bring it back, but none were successful until Minnesotabased Polaris Industries Inc. began producing the cycles last year. That’s when Conway first learned that Indian was seeking dealers around the country.
When he was at a yearly motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, last year, Indian was there, and Conway got to test the bikes in person.
“I made up my mind to go forward with it in August in Sturgis,” he said.
Indian approved his dealership last fall, and Conway began looking around Oklahoma City for a suitable site.I looked all over Oklahoma City. I kept coming back to Automobile Alley.
“I looked all over Oklahoma City,” he said. “I kept coming back to Automobile Alley.”
The building he chose was constructed in 1930. It previously housed an antique store.
“What’s unique about our place is the historic nature of the building,” he said.
Conway took over the lease on March 1 and installed new laminate floors, sandblasted the brick walls and added a stamped tin ceiling. He also installed the requisite Indian furnishings and signage. Motorcycles, accessories, parts and apparel are on display in the 3,700-square-foot showroom. The remaining space, about 9,000 square feet, is for service and cycle storage and parts. With the available inventory, customers can browse bikes and ride away the same day.
“We have all the motorcycles Indian carries,” Conway said.
Those include the Chief Classic, which starts at $18,999; the Chief Vintage, which starts at $20,999; and the Chieftain, which starts at $22,999. He also carries bikes by Victory Motorcycles, another brand owned by Polaris.
Jane Jenkins, president and CEO of Downtown OKC Inc., said the dealership is a welcome addition to the increasingly eclectic mix of businesses that are setting up shop on Automobile Alley.
“I love that Indian Motorcycles is making a comeback,” she said. “It’s an excellent location. There’s high visibility, a lot of traffic and plenty of parking.”
Automobile Alley includes the area between NW Fourth and NW 13th streets and Broadway Avenue and Interstate 235.
Conway plans to grow his staff, carry additional Indian merchandise and organize a group of Indian owners to take rides around town.