Norm Grabowski’s Corvair Powered 1941 Indian Motorcycle from the 1960s Built After the Kookie T – Hot Rod
This Corvair-powered Indian motorcycle was one of the 1960s’ most radical bikes.
Sixty years ago, Norm Grabowski’s 1922 Ford T-bucket was probably the most famous hot rod in America. A few weeks ago, the iconic rod was celebrated in Detroit as one of the most significant hot rods of the 20th century. Since its recent restoration, Norm’s T-bucket, known to many as the Kookie T, has undergone a much-deserved resurgence in popularity. The Kookie T may be the car Norm Grabowski is best known for, but he built quite a few remarkable rods during his lifetime—not to mention a few radical custom motorcycles.
Grabowski’s best known bike has to be Six-Pack, built in the mid-’60s, several years after he’d sold the Model T. Six-Pack was built on a shaft-drive 1941 Indian motorcycle frame, which Grabowski stuffed with a built-up 1961 Corvair Monza flat-six engine. The bike featured a Harley-Davidson Sportster tank and a custom rear fender. The pinstriping was done by legendary customizer Dean Jeffries, who had contributed the flames and striping on the Kookie T years before. Jeffries is also credited for designing the headers on the bike.
Grabowski was riding Six-Pack on the street when he was hit by a car. The accident left him on crutches for a while and tore up the front of the bike. He equipped the repaired bike with a sidecar, built by combining as modified ‘glass T-bucket body with a Steib sidehack frame from Germany. Jeffries once again contributed his striping skills. Grabowski used Six-Pack with a sidehack to chauffeur his young niece, Mary, to her elementary school.
Although never as famous as the Kookie T, Six-Pack got a fair share of attention from custom motorcycle magazines and from one car magazine. The April 1965 issue of Car Craft included an April Fool’s story on Grabowski’s bike, featuring Bob D’Olivio’s photographs and the following comic interview between Norm Grabowski as Sir Gladd Gladiator and CC writer Jack Crandall as Baron Von Wristpin.
Wristpin: Sir Gladd, this motorcycle is simply a work of art. Would you tell our readers about it?
Sir Gladd: Well, it’s a World War IItype Indian (shaft drive) frame with a 1961 Corvair Monza engine, a Harley Sportster tank, a Velocette generator, and a Porsche foglight.
Wristpin: It’s amazing what you can do with leftovers.
Sir Gladd: If you think that this is strange, you should see what my dad is driving.
Wristpin: Does your dad have a customized bike, also?
Sir Gladd: No, he has a 1961 Corvair Monza with a World War IItype Indian engine in it.
Wristpin: How does he like it?
Sir Gladd: He doesn’t even know it yet.
Wristpin: Would you say that this is more of a sports touring model than a competition bike?
Sir Gladd: I will if you want me to.
Wristpin: Never mind. Why did you decide to build this up in the first place?
Sir Gladd: I have a four-thousand-customer paper route.
Wristpin: How did you happen to hit upon the clever name “Six-Pack”?
Sir Gladd: It was just a natural. I was putting in the six pistons when it came to me. You see, I used to have a one-cylinder bike that I called “One-Pack” and so I just figured with five more
Wristpin: Yes, I see. I was thinking that the soft drink companies could use that title for those handy little cartons with the six cans in them.
Sir Gladd: It’s all right with me, if they want to.
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