New Motorcycle Dealership Revving Things Up

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PANAMA CITY BEACH They rolled into town about four months ago. And while they may not be native to the area, they're on the warpath to become a major player in the motorcycle industry.

Indian Motorcycle has been around since 1901, and at one time the largest maker of motorcycles in the world. Indian motorcycles have such a rich history, including regarded by many as a war hero. More than 80,000 service men and women rode Indian Motorcycles during both world wars.

The original maker of Indian Motorcycles went bankrupt in 1953, but since then the brand has died and been revived a number of times. Their latest resurrection took place in 2011, when Polaris Industries bought Indian and moved its manufacturing plant to Spirit Lake, Iowa.

"Right now they're gaining market share," said David Elder, general manager at Indian Motorcycle of Panama City Beach. "They're opening up stores. We have almost 200 stores nationwide and we just happen to be one of the best ones."

Elder says Panama City Beach was a no-brainer when it came to opening a new store.

"Obviously it's a great town to come to," said Elder. "There's an influx of people throughout the year because it's a vacation spot. On top of that you have two motorcycle rallies here a year, spring and fall, which is obviously that's always a good place to be during the bike weeks."

So good in fact, Elder says sales have been through the roof.

"I'd like to say we're the number one dealership in the country," said Elder. "But we have been on top for quite some time. Even though we've been here only four months, we've came out very, very strong. We've beaten national records at this location."

And it's not just locals revvin' up sales.

"We have access to more states here than just our town," said Elder. "So while they're here (tourists) if we treat them right, they'll end up buying from us instead of maybe even going back to their home town and purchasing."

Many say they love the traditional look of Indian motorcycles. And according to one Indian lover, her bike generates a lot of stares.

"We get a lot of good looks, and every time I come out I bet I have a circle of five men just gawking at this bike," said Panama City Beach resident Judi Befort, who said it was love at first ride.

"And I've always wanted an Indian and when it came out in Sturgis I was like yea, it's back," said Befort. "And so when I came in they opened up this store, I came here, I took a ride… fell in love."

"They (customers) really go after the nostalgia part," said Elder. "They (Indian bikes) have the traditional look to them, but they're also so innovative ."

"When they came out with the Indian and I've researched the motor and everything, I had to have the Indian," said Lynn Haven resident Roger Sweat.

Sweat says many of his friends had to have one too.

"Everybody is just like wow," said Sweat. "This bike is so much different than their old bikes, what they had."

So while its days in actual battle may be a thing of the past, Indian Motorcycle is still in a war to become the bike of choice.

Indian Motorcycle of Panama City Beach is located at 13830 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL 32407.