Now really, who amongst us that love vintage motorbikes wouldn’t love to have a bike that was designed to be parachuted out of an airplane behind enemy lines during World War 2? And how many of us have so many motorcycle projects filling the garage, evenings that are supposed to spent with the family, and money in the bank account, that have wives who would love to see us sitting on that bike falling out of an airplane….without a parachute? Raise your wrench, I thought so…pretty much all of us.
Next question, what if that bike was a scooter? Ah, not so many wrenches in the air this time. Come on you guys expand your horizons, think outside the gas tank. I’m not talking about your average Vespa or Lambretta (they wouldn’t handle being dropped off a curb much less out of an airplane), I’m going to something much cooler…a Cushman. Yeah, I know, Cushman made golf carts for a million years but they also made vehicles for the military. Cushman’s were strong and reliable, that was what was needed then ( it still is today when you think about it). Some models were touted as getting 100mpg but most got around 75mpg…at that time they advertised that you could ride a Cushman for less than a penny a mile.
There is a lot written about Cushman’s history and it’s pretty cool. Totally utilitarian but they also delved into the world of the futuristic with some of its designs in the ’50’s. Unique styling didn’t really help them then but today some of these models, especially the Road King model are highly desired by scooter aficionados.
The Model 53 also known as the ‘Airborne’, was designed to be parachuted out of an airplane to support the troops on the ground during World War 2. It had a number of uses during the war, the utility trailer that came with it could haul supplies to the troops and could even carry 50 caliber machine guns or 81 mm mortars. The Model 53 could forge a water crossing over a foot deep and climb a 25% hill…the Model 53 would go anywhere and do anything. Reliability was the key to its overall usefulness for the military.
At the end of the war there were still a lot of these models that had not gone to the government and were sold off as ‘Civilian’ models and could be had for a song.
I found a beautifully restored ‘civilian’ model on ebay this morning that would be so much fun to ride around town, the senior citizen trailer park or load it onto the bumper of your motorhome and hit all the National Parks. The owner has done a full resto on the scooter and shows only 1 mile? It should sell for a reasonable price and really would be an attention getter no matter where you ride it.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little more info.