$3,200 Truckster: 1966 Cushman Mailster

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“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, or so the myth goes; there is no official motto for the USPS. But, this was an official postal vehicle, it’s a 1966 Cushman Mailster and it’s in Columbia, Tennessee, fifty miles south of Nashville. It’s on eBay with a current bid price of $1,225 and a bit of a small bidding war going on between two or three folks. There’s a Buy It Now price of $3,200, which given what restored examples sell for, is a heck of a bargain.

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This isn’t the usual type of vehicle that most folks would expect to see on Barn Finds, but I’m here to see that there are a few oddballs thrown in the mix, just to see if you’re paying attention! The seller says that this one starts, runs, and drives, and the lights and wipers work, and the brakes work “somewhat”, so you may have to tinker with those. They give their grandchildren rides in the back of this so I would think that they’d want the brakes to work perfectly, but they must work good enough to putting around the neighborhood.

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Cushman Motor Works was founded in 1902 and by 1922 the company was located in Lincoln, Nebraska. They only made engines until 1936 when they decided to put those engines in company-designed scooters; it was a great move. In 1952 the Truckster was introduced and in November of 1956 sold 1,500 model 780s to the USPS and in February of 1957 Cushman received another order for 1,500 3-wheeled “Mailsters” from the USPS. At the peak in 1966 the USPS had over 17,000 Mailsters in use, mainly in warm climates. They didn’t work too well in snow, as you can imagine. One beautifully-restored 1957 Mailster recently sold at Barrett-Jackson for $17,600! Yowsa! In 1957 the company became a part of Outboard Marine Corporation.

The Cushman company was bought out by the Rand Equipment Company of St. Paul, MN in July of 1968 and this one has “Rand” markings on it in a couple of spots. The rear end sure looks like a standard mail van, and those big doors would be handy for carrying your motorcycle to local shows, just to give a little added zing to your entrance. Well, there isn’t much room back there, so maybe you can carry your minibike.

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This is a three-speed on the column and the interior could use a little restoration, but these small vehicles are easy to store and work on so hopefully that would end up being a fun project instead of a chore. There are 13,000 miles on this Mailster and it looks like you’ll need to source another steering wheel, this one is a bit cracked.

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This Mailster has it’s original Onan opposed-twin engine and these were good for about 35 mph. But, don’t take corners too quickly with that single front wheel. This is my kind of vehicle: it’s cheap, odd, small and you don’t see one everywhere you look. Of course, it’s not something that I would take on the highway and it should be unnecessary to even have to mention that but it usually comes up when showing these small, oddball vehicles. This would be just fun to drive to a local car show on side streets or run local errands with. I don’t ever remember seeing a USPS vehicle like this where we lived, have you seen a Mailster in use? Or, have you ever seen one anywhere?

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Comments

  1. Fred W.

    My Dad had one that looked identical but was made by Westcoaster. Used it to putt putt around the family property in the 80’s, even had an extra one for parts. He affectionately called it “Half Pint”. The Onan engine was great and pretty easy to keep running.

    Like 1
    • bonnievandam

      The one on this page is NOT a Cushman. It’s a Westcoaster. Cushman did NOT make Westcoasters.

  2. JW

    So if you or I was to buy this would it be street legal with a 35mph max speed ??? Maybe a limited license to use.

    Like 1
    • Dave Wright

      We legally drive quads, utv ‘s ATV’s et all on the streets in Idaho…………….

      • JW

        Your lucky, in my town in Missouri they will ticket you and if repeat offender they confiscate it, same thing when I lived in Illinois.

    • Mike

      What town would that be JW, in Park Hills, they allow Quads, Mules, Gators golf carts, on our streets, ever since gas prices went through the roof, they were going to repel it, but the folks in town asked for it to remain, all you have to do is go up and have it checked over and pick up a permit once a year for $5.00.

      • JW

        Aurora, Illinois

        Like 1
      • JW

        Also Excelsior Springs, Missouri where I live today.

    • Chris Wolcott

      I own a 1963 and has a title to it so it can be plated with a historical plate in Michigan

      • Christina

        Where can I locate the VIN for a 1963 that I recently purchased?

        Like 1
    • Phillip Gardner

      Yes it’s considered a motorcycle and you have to have. : wheeler endorsement on your license I have a bright red 66 west coaster and when we went to get it inspected the guy wouldn’t do it he had to call the state police to see why it was clarified as

      • bill

        In Texas, any 3 wheel vehicle is considered a motorcycle. If the vehicle is 25 years old, you can get an Antique vehicle plate. Yearly inspections aren’t required if you have an antique plate but you’re supposed to restrict use of the vehicle to shows, mechanic, test runs etc. But you must have a title to register the vehicle at all. A bill of sale is no longer enough.

  3. Chris

    These things are cool and get good money. There should be a car collecting rule that if you can’t fit the cash required to buy it in the vehicle it is over priced…

  4. Howard A Member

    More cool stuff from our ” oddball expert”. We never had these in the city, and I’m not sure they would do too well in the country. We always had the Jeeps in our neighborhood. These were more at home in a factory, and saw many in the maintenance shops. Cool little unit, but not for that price, good heavens.

  5. daCabbie

    I live in a ‘golf cart community’… so you could legally run it on the streets… it would be great for running to the beer store.

    I hate the way the front wheel looks on these things… looks like it has too much weight on it.. I would prefer a motorcycle front end with hydraulic tube shocks.

  6. Ben T Spanner

    A suburb of Columbus, Ohio, Upper Arlington, used three wheeled dump vehicles for garbage collection. The three wheelers would go up the driveway collect the garbage, and dump it in the back of the full size packer. I think they were Cushmans.

    I don’t know if they used them in the winter. In bad weather the poor garbage men probably had to hand carry the trash.

  7. JCW Jr.

    If the vehicle has a title and can be licensed then you can run it on the highway and streets. Only exception is certain roads that have a minimum speed such as interstates. I get the same question about my King midget “is it street legal” well it is a car just like the one you drive every day. Mailsters of registered and titled are no different than a car or motorcycle. Quads and such might have plates but have not been rated or titled for road use except where local laws allow.

    Like 1
  8. David J David J

    A perfect excuse to move to that island community that you have been dreaming about for many moons.

    Paint her in earth tone, add a bike/surfboard rack, load the rear with SCUBA gear and a cooler, and enjoy.

  9. Andrew

    My uncle made a living with one of these. He was a door to door milkman and carried crates of beer on the roof, went door to door. This was up to 1978 and before convenient stores existed, at least in the Netherlands. Those were the good old days, but it was a tough life.

  10. Andrew

    I was trying to upload a picture of his cart here.

  11. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    34 bids. Winning bid $2,767.00.

    Like 1
  12. Ron

    About 1968, an uncle in Oklahoma bought one at a government surplus auction for $75. A lot of fun an very tippy.

  13. T.W. Day

    I remember our mail carrier had one back in the late sixties. We kids would follow him around talking to him and admiring the little Mailster. We had a neighborhood dog that used to chase the Mailster everyday. Until one day the dog misjudged his distance and slid up under the front of the Mailster. The front wheel caught him and pulled him through the front fender spitting him out about 15 feet in front of the Mailster. Just about skinned that stupid dog alive. That dog ran back to his yard and NEVER chased anything again. Mr. Wright, the mail carrier just about had a heart attack. The neighbors got him calmed down and called the postal inspector. If I remember correctly he got a few days of R&R. But he was back as his jovial self a few days later. He was a really professional guy and took his job serious. He was our mail carrier for about 10 years. Wish you could find those people that made an impression on you when you were a kid.

    Like 1
  14. Terry Evans

    They were used by the post office in south Florida when I was a kid. I bought one in 1970 and used it as my daily driver for two years of college in Gainesville. I’d seriously consider another, hoping I might be able to adapt a little Diesel engine.

  15. bill

    I’m really surprised it only brought $3200. I would have paid that any day in cash.

  16. Pat

    The vehicle in this article is not a Cushman at all and is not a Cushman Mailster. It’s a Westcoaster, made by either Otis or Rand.

    • bill

      This is true. I wish they would correct all the inaccuracies.

  17. David Mignano

    I had a friend that lost there house in the Sonoma Fire and his old car and stuff. He has rebuilt the house and is now looking for an old 3 wheel mail cart to putt around his house. Were can I find one for sale. David Madden.3@comcast.net

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