In October 1911 the Henderson Motorcycle Company of Detroit announced a new 4-cylinder, 56 cubic inch (918cc) 7hp motorcycle. Twenty-five were to be ready for sale at $325 from the start of 1912 with the expectation of producing 1,000 machines for the year. The brainchild of William G. Henderson (in partnership with his brother Tom W. Henderson), it was the third 4-cylinder motorcycle to be manufactured in America. The new Henderson proved to be a very desirable machine. Various design improvements were incorporated during the ensuing years: a gearbox was introduced in 1914, the wheelbase was shortened for much improved handling in 1915, and the Model F of 1916 featured a kickstart and a mechanical ‘splash’ oiler system. Due to the impact of WW1 on material supplies, prices were increased in 1916 by $30, with the standard model costing $295 and the two-speed $325. The following year a 4-cyl Henderson smashed the coveted trans-USA record held for two years by Erwin George ‘Cannonball’ Baker on an Indian twin. Alan Bedell rode his standard 4-cyl Henderson from Los Angeles to New York City in seven days, sixteen and a quarter hours.
The Henderson here was discovered quite recently, in pieces, in a cellar. Because the 1200cc engine has been upgraded from the model F’s 989cc, with a 4-speed gearbox in place of a 2-speed, and a strengthened frame at the rear, it is possible that this machine may have been used in competition around a century ago. Undergoing a complete restoration during 2015 and early 2016, its navy blue frame, cream wheels and elegant, red-pinstriped flat tank would greatly impress at any vintage gathering or concours event.