Post-Sale Update: This Cushman Model 53 sold for the opening bid of $7,000.
The Cushman Model 53 is probably as cool as a scooter gets. 4,734 of these bikes were produced to serve the US in World War II. These bare-bones scoots were intended to primarily be messenger bikes, helping to increase the mobility of troops and assist in communications. Their diminutive size was supposed to help them quickly but quietly maneuver around obstacles that might slow down Jeeps or armored units. But the best part of the Model 53s were how they were delivered. The US Air Force delivered them like many other provisions – out the back of a plane, strapped to a parachute!
Unfortunately, this novel delivery mechanism posed a serious problem. As the scooter had no real suspension, many of the wheels were bent on landing, rendering some of the Cushman Model 53s useless as they hit the ground. Because of this, many scooters were destroyed on site, or just left in France. No one seems to know how many of the 53s ever came back to the US. In addition to moving personnel around, trailers could be attached to lug cargo, though the 1-cylinder 4.6 horsepower engine wasn’t capable of carrying very much. With only a (brave) rider, this bike was capable of 40 mph on those tiny wheels, despite a hefty curb weight of 255 pounds. The Model 53 was capable of wading through a foot of water, climbing a 25 percent grade, and going 100 miles before needing a refuel. After the war, Cushman changed the model name to 53A and sold surplus bikes to the American public.
This specific Cushman Model 53 has no real history, and as such it’s unclear if it actually got any wartime use or if it was simply a surplus unit. The engine runs great, and the transmission shifts smoothly between its two speeds. Apparently, the air cleaner is in high demand, so you should be pleased that it’s included here, though the seller isn’t sure exactly how original this bike is. Unfortunately, we’re not entirely sure, either. He does note that some parts are “later parts”, presumably meaning they’ve been replaced with NOS or similar.
Find this Cushman Model 53 for sale with an opening bid of $7,000 in Newburgh, Indiana