A Boys Depression Era Luxury: 1937 Elgin Bluebird

Bikes have had a heavy influence on history, including automotive history. The bicycle’s early beginnings were simple and humble, and changed little from the mid 1890’s up into the late 1920’s. Cue the 1930’s with Art Deco and Streamline designs, and you can begin to see why this 1937 Elgin Bluebird is such a beautiful and unique two wheel machine. Bluebirds are incredibly rare and highly sought after as they were extremely expensive during the depression era years. Each bike was hand assembled, and it is though that each bike cost roughly as much as a Ford Model T in assembly costs. Many of these bicycles have been restored, so to find a surviving original condition bike is really something very special. With 25 bids, and the reserve not yet met, bidding has risen to $11,466.66!!! Check out this rare and unique prewar machine here on ebay out of Greer, South Carolina.

Many unique features grace this bike from its sleek deco tank that houses a horn, light, and speedometer, to its unique frame and fork design. Up to this point in time, no other bike had been designed or constructed in such a way. Costing $52 dollars new during the depression era, this bike in current money would roughly cost $915.30, making it unaffordable to many at that time. When Bluebird parts come up for sale, which is rare, there is often a feeding frenzy to ascertain that “one” part that is so badly needed to complete a Bluebird project. Thankfully this Elgin is complete and looks to be ready to ride. There are a few reproduced parts available, like the grips, and the headlight lens, but when it comes to bikes, you simply can’t beat original like this one.

Photo Credit: Ethan Bingel. Thanks Ethan!

Even Chip Foose is a Bluebird fan having owned a few, along with some other great bikes. Looking at this bare frame it is easy to see and appreciate why the man of style himself is a fan of these beautiful bikes.

Just like a car, originality is very important to an antique bike. The grips, pedals, headlight lens, and saddle are original and this bike is even equipped with 80 year old tires! Assuming that the tires aren’t reproductions, this bike is about as original as one could hope for. Much of the factory paint is in place, and all of the special and unique features that “make” this bike are present as well. The paint is by no means perfect, but enough of it remains to represent this bikes original appearance. The front fender has a few minor dents, as does the drive side chain stay, but otherwise the condition seems nice. If you spend enough time looking you may pick up on all the interesting styling cues, but can you see and warrant the $11,466.66 for this non-motorized bicycle?

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Comments

  1. Andre

    $11.5k!

    I’ll take the green ’37 Plymouth for less, thanks.

  2. JohnT

    I am just absolutely blown away to see that a human powered bicycle could command such extremely incredible money. Do I also see that the chain guard is missing … That means that the bike is not even complete! Would Scotty G. or anyone at BF please pass the Kleenex?

  3. TriPowerVette

    These things are pure art. You almost want to put it in your living room on a glass-enclosed, rotating pedestal. Maybe as a dining room table… with tall chairs.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I have to agree! Have to have the lights and horn working though. I had a blue Schwinn Ramhorn Stingray as a kid and I thought that was cool. But this thing is out there!

  4. Tony S

    Wow what a beautiful design!

  5. Jay M

    How did everything get an artistic touch back then?
    How come everything now looks like a bread box or suppository?

  6. RoKo

    It’s a bicycle. Pass.

  7. Fred W.

    Highest price I’ve ever seen on a bike. I find it interesting that the nearly 90 year old tires are still usable. Today’s Chinese rubber is good for maybe 5-10 years, then cracks to pieces.

    • grant

      Are they really usable though? I doubt this will be ridden.

  8. Rube Goldberg Member

    I swear, these people must have bumped their head. Oh, it’s cool, but come on. You got that kind of money to piss away on a bike? And that speedo is a bit optimistic for a bicycle. Apparently, times aren’t tough for everybody.

    • Mike

      The automotive, motorcycle (and bicycle) world are LOADED with examples of items people deem “overpriced” and “who would pay money for that” while the people in the know are laughing all the way to the bank.

      • Rube Goldberg Member

        Oh, I know, I’m no stranger to Capitalism. I suppose if you can’t beat them, join them.

      • Fred W.

        Problem is, at some point everyone who will pay the price dies off or the popularity of the item goes down, and values eventually plummet. But for the short term, (10 years) some of this stuff is a good investment.

  9. Alex B

    I prefer the big tires on my current bicycle.

    I like big tires (3 inch wide) and I cannot lie. :D

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I (try) and ride my “Specialized Rockhopper”( that I bought at Vinny’s FOR $30 BUCKS!! Clearly, they didn’t know what they had) every day. I see those big tires seem all the rage now. Looks a bit silly, but I’d be curious how that rides.

      • Alex B

        It’s like riding on a cloud, and with so much grip, I can take corners at much more speed. Sure it cost’s a bit more power but I am used to it now.

        Someone once said that a normal mountainbike is like a rally car, and with plus size wheels it’s like a rally truck, and that is quite right! I am happy with mine. :D

    • glen

      I assume these are better in the Winter.

  10. Jay E.

    Every part of this is rolling sculpture. This is an object that is so perfectly thought out that its form is even more beautiful than its function. It has it become industrial art. The originality is perfect. I can see this price or even double that and the current bidder upped his bid from 8k to 12K. He knows this too. Wish I could own it.

  11. jw454

    I can’t be sure but, it looks like the seat can be adjusted fore and aft as well as up and down. That gives me an idea for my two wheeler.

  12. AMXSTEVE

    Mike Wolf would pay that I’m sure.Those picker guys are always buying these kind of bikes.

  13. peter spooner

    what does one use for brakes?

    • HawaiianEyeland

      Im led to beleive its Old School brakes and one bears down on the pedal in “reverse” or counterclock motion to brake.

      • JohnT

        Otherwise known as a “Coaster Brake”. Can’t believe the money these vintage bikes are getting!

  14. Chuck Foster 55chevy Chuck Foster

    This is no longer a bicycle to ride, it is a display piece as a work of art, $12k is nothing. Bike collectors mainly like three categories, Pre-War Balloon tires, post war balloon/art deco, and Muscle Bikes, Sting Ray Krates and other Stick Shift 5 speeds. There are some wild styled Pre-War styles, the picture of this art deco one has this caption: 1960 Ben Bowden Spacelander Retro Bicycle, goes for 42,000 on ebay

  15. Dan

    Specialized rockhopper sport. 29″ wheels. Ride it every day to work. Didn’t cost nearly as much as they’re asking for that Elgin.

  16. newfieldscarnut

    I want to find one at a barn sale for 50 bucks .

  17. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Winning bid:US $14,000.00
    [ 27 bids ]

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