Indian Motorcycle Estate Beneficiaries from Viewing New Prototype
10 November 1998Receiver Blocks Indian Motorcycle Estate Beneficiaries and Press from Viewing New Eller Indian Motorcycle Prototype
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 9 -- About 200 members of the Indian Motorcycle receivership estate were prohibited yesterday by court order from viewing the new Indian Motorcycle prototype developed by Eller Industries, Inc. ("Eller") (OTC Bulletin Board: ELRI). And some 20 members of the business media who came to a press conference here today also did not get a promised view of the prototype heritage-cruiser based on the Indian legacy. According to Eller President Leonard S. Labriola, a last-minute injunction halted the presentations of a motorcycle which would revolutionize the industry. "In furtherance of its commitment to rebuild the Indian Motorcycle Company, Eller has invested over $1.5 million in a prototype that some members of the motorcycle press believe will set the new standard for motorcycles," he said. "Designed by James Parker and engineered and fabricated by Roush Industries of NASCAR fame, this was the motorcycle most members of the estate had been anticipating for more than five years." John Petitto, already a major motorcycle dealer and a beneficiary of and major investor in the Indian receivership estate said, "How dare this receiver tell me what I can and cannot see. These are our trademark assets he is selling, not his. I don't understand how the man who is supposed to be focused on protecting our interests can act in a way so contrary to what the members of the estate want him to do. "I speak for most members of the estate when I say that we believe that Eller is getting railroaded here, and we are not going to sit by and watch it happen. We want the Indian Motorcycle Company to be American owned, we want the Eller plan, and the Eller Indian. Don't forget, the receiver does not own the trademark assets, we do. And we want the company to move forward under the Eller contract." Eller Industries was the uncontested purchaser of the Indian Motorcycle trademarks until recently when the receiver terminated the contract. "As there has yet to be a hearing on the matter, there is no way to know what the receiver's reasons were for trying to terminate the Eller contract., said Labriola. "It's kind of like losing a lawsuit before learning you have been sued." Robert Lutz, Chrysler Corporation vice chairman (retired) and Eller advisor said, "We're stunned. This event has been planned for six weeks, and the motorcycle has been under intensive development for eight months at a cost of over $1.5-million. Why the court waited until the last minute to quash the unveiling is a mystery to everyone." Despite many estate members being notified prior to the gathering the motorcycle would not be shown, nearly 200 still traveled to Detroit from as far away as Southern California. The order prohibiting the motorcycle's display was received by fax the evening of Thursday, November 5th. This left Eller and its attorneys one day to convince the receiver that his beneficiaries should be allowed to see the bike. "Unfortunately, he did not give his final word, which was in effect 'Absolutely Not,' until late Friday afternoon," reported Labriola. "This kept our staff on the phone until after midnight trying to warn people to allow them to change their travel plans." The Eller Prototype is designed to echo the styling themes developed by the legendary Indian Motorcycle Company before it ceased 52 years of production in 1953. Since then, the Indian name has retained a unique cachet -- America's original motorcycle company predating Harley-Davidson -- with restored Indian motorcycles selling for as much as $50,000 or more, and the immediately recognizable Indian script and headdress logo appearing on a wide assortment of consumer goods. Labriola described to both gatherings the plans to resurrect the name as well as those of manufacturing the motorcycles in a factory near Myrtle, OR, on land owned by the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. "The Cow Creek Band is a major investor in this project," said Labriola. "This program is seen by Tribe leaders as a means of investing casino earnings into broadening the economic infrastructure of the Cow Creek Band. Its establishment would go a long way in helping a region beset by economic hardships due to downturns in the mining and forestry industries."