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There is something about Cushman scooters, and old scooters in general, that attract collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world. In the case of Harley Davidson scooters, the Harley brand obviously has an intensely loyal following, so it’s easy understand.
In the case of Cushman scooters, it’s slightly different since the Cushman brand is known for other types of utility vehicles including golf carts. I’m sure we’ll find out from our reader’s comments, but most likely, the folks collecting Cushman Scooters either had one or wanted one when they were younger, or maybe their parents had one…
Restoring Cushman scooters can be a fun, and it’s not too hard to find a Cushman for sale, but it can be an addictive hobby. Some folks modify their engines and transmissions to increase power. Some like to change the look of the scooter so it looks and acts more like a custom motorcycle. As with motorcycle owners, Cushman owners often gather for rides and special events. Why not gather up your gang of Cushman scooter riders and head out on the highway like these guys?
Before we get to the scooters, let’s start with the short version of Cushman history. Cushman started in Nebraska USA in 1902 and a patent involving a two-stroke engine. They continued to develop engines, mainly for use on farms, but then also for boats.
Cushman engine sales continued to grow through WWI. By the late 1920’s, the company was not doing well financially and was taken over by the Easy Manufacturing Company (you might find irony in this name if you ever have worked in manufacturing). Easy Manufacturing then began using the Cushman name. This new Cushman tried to win a deal to make engines for a California-based motor scooter company, but didn’t get the contract. Instead, they focused on building their scooters and created the first Cushman scooter in 1936 called the Cushman R-1.
The name Auto-Glide was introduced and their marketing campaign accelerated the sales of Cushman scooters. Cushman scooters grew again during war time as they supplied a variety of scooters for military use.
By the late 1940’s, the production line for Cushman scooters was improved to handle mass-production quantities. Electric golf cars, commonly called golf carts today, were introduced in the 1950’s by Cushman. Other utility vehicles were introduced and marketed by Cushman in addition to their motor scooters, and their utility vehicle business began to outgrow their motor scooter business. Outboard Marine Company, known as OMC, took over Cushman at the end of the 1950’s and discontinued manufacturing golf carts in 1975 due to inexpensive foreign models that heavily cut into their golf cart sales.
That’s about enough of this history lesson, and especially the golf carts… let’s now focus on the scooters. The early Cushman scooters had a simple and practical design that some collectors like the most. I think it’s fair to say they had an art deco influence in their designs back then, as many things did during that period.
During the 1950’s and well into the 1960’s, some of the new Cushman scooters began to resemble the Indian motorcycles and Harley-Davidson motorcycles of the same period, but obviously had smaller overall size and smaller tires. The Harley Davidson scooters of the 1960’s, called the Topper, looked something like the Cushman Auto-Glide from 20 years prior, and also something like the Pacemaker scooter from about 10 years prior.
You can also throw in the Cushman Allstate sold through Sears and Roebuck during the 1950’s. As a contrast, the Cushman Eagle scooter in the 1960’s looked more like a full size Harley Davidson motorcycle did during the 1960’s.
That’s kind of amusing, considering the Harley Davidson scooter, called the Topper, didn’t have the same success that Cushman scooters had. In the end, it seems Cushman pretty much beat Harley in the scooter market by mimicking Harley’s motorcycle design, but not exactly of course. The Harley scooter went the other direction with it’s design that had a very scooter-ish look that did not really resemble any motorcycle.
The Harley Topper only existed for 5 years. Cushman scooter prices have been rising, but in the ongoing recession climate, you might get a bargain on one. It is not unusual to find restored Cushman scooters selling in the $4,000 to $9,000 range depending on the model. There are lots of Cushman collectors out there searching for old scooters that are in need of a restoration. If you happen to have a vintage scooter out in the barn, no matter how bad it looks, you should consider selling it before it gets worse.
One place to advertise your scooter for sale without having to pay any fees to do so is at CushmanForSale.com, which is one of our family of motorcycle related sites.