Cushman Motor Works began its humble beginnings in 1903 as a manufacturer of small combustion engines for farm vehicles and boats. They added their ever-famous line of scooters in 1936, and until its discontinuation in the 1960s, they were some of the most innovative and top-of-the-line personal modes of transport.
Cushman scooters, oftentimes referred to as an economic “second car,” filled the gap between motorcycles and bicycles and were popular among students and young adults. Cushman’s line of scooters extended to include passenger vehicles as well as cargo-carrying models. Salesmen, farmers, housewives, and many other sorts of people use these cute but heavy-duty scooters to run errands and make deliveries, as well as go on vacation across states. In general, Cushman scooters were some of the best and cost-efficient ways to get around. One of the reasons that contributed to its popularity was that riders didn’t require driver’s license to take them on the road (only in some states in the US).
Cushman scooters also played a vital role in helping Allied troops deliver messages and cargo across battlefields during World War II. During the War, Cushman’s efforts in producing their trustworthy, heavy-duty scooters were dedicated to make scooters that could withstand drops with a parachute. It wasn’t until the 1950s after the War had ended that Cushman resumed productions of consumer-grade scooters in full-force. Annually, the company released roughly 10,000 scooters to the market. In June 1950, Cushman designed and manufactured their best-selling model, the Eagle, which drove up demand by roughly 5,000 units per year.
Cushman scooters dominated the scooter-market in the US during the 1950s with the release of new or improved Eagles, Highlanders, and Deluxe Highlands. However, as soon as the 1960s came rolling in, scooters, in general, began to decrease in popularity, resulting in a sudden plummet in market share. In 1965, Cushman cut their losses and discontinued their line of motor scooters, opting instead to diversify into golf carts and other small-sized vehicles.
To date, it’s been more than 60 years since Cushman gave up their line of scooters, but we can still find die-hard Cushman mans all over North America. In fact, one man’s devotion to Cushman drove him to manufacture his own line of Cushman-esque scooters (Cushman II Motor Scooter). As for the other 3,000-odd other fans of the company’s scooters, they’ve banded to form the Cushman Club of America where members pay an annual fee which entitles them to a quarterly subscription to the club’s magazine.
Due to their discontinuation in 1965, today, you’re not going to be able to purchase a brand-new or even hardly-used, authentic Cushman scooter, though websites like cycletrader offer a form where people can trade or sell their Cushman scooters with interested buyers in America. The rest of this article will focus on the main buying points, as well as reviews of available Cushman scooter models, though you should take whatever information you get here with a grain of salt since Cushman scooters vary in model, specs, age, and purchase value.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CUSHMAN SCOOTER
As we mentioned before, a dedicated man has put in his money and efforts to produce Cushman-esque scooters, which are delightful to operate and are brand new to boot but ultimately inauthentic. If you’re looking for the real deal, be sure to ask for the scooter’s VIN so you can trace it back to the manufacturer and model type.
Cushman motors were never made to satisfy speed freaks. The fastest an authentic Cushman scooter could run during its prime years was a little over 50 mph. Keeping the aging components in mind, a functional Cushman scooter’s max speed should reach between 30 and 45 mph, though this depends on the overall care and maintenance given to it by its previous owner(s).
MILES PER GALLON
When Cushman scooters were first sold, it was common for them to reach upwards of 100 miles on a single gallon of gasoline which is extremely fuel-efficient considering the technological developments during the 1930s to 1960s. However, keeping everything we discussed earlier in mind, travel distance per gallon really depends on how well the scooter was maintained and whether the previous owner(s) invested new components to revitalize their beloved scooters.
CUSHMAN EAGLE REVIEW
One of the most commonly traded or sold Cushman scooter models is the Eagle. The Eagle was first introduced in June 1950 and was ultimately discontinued in February 1966, and Cushman implemented various changes in each subsequent Eagle model they produced. For this reason, you might have a difficult time finding any Highlander or Deluxe Highlanders that have withstood the test of time or are for sale by their Cushman-loving owners.
As we mentioned before, the Eagle was the company’s best-selling scooter of all time. However, when put up against today’s scooters and mopeds, the Eagle will probably be left in the dust. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any value, evidenced by the number of different traders and sellers on hemmings.com who have put up their vintage Eagles for sale.
Back when they were still in production, a brand-new Cushman scooter would cost you $200 in the 1950s (translated to roughly $2,000 in today’s dollar). Today, buying a vintage Cushman classic can set you back up to $3,000. Obviously, the Cushman name still has value to it since the hardware that makes up a Cushman scooter is pretty much obsolete. If you’re a die-hard Cushman collector, prepare shell out thousands of dollars for restored classic.
We hope our article will help you in your quest to find and acquire a vintage Cushman scooter. These scooters remain a huge part of American history, but just remember that purchasing a part of history will cost you quite a bit of money. Not to mention that what you’re getting can’t even compare to brand-new 2018 scooter models which are much more fuel efficient, can reach higher speeds, have innovative safety mechanisms in place, and several other features not available in the 1950s and 1960s. If you do end up getting your mitts on a Cushman scooter, just remember to have fun cruising through town in a flashy, vintage piece of 1950s America (albeit, you’ll be cruising through town slowly, up to 40-ish mph).