The classiest bicycle ever made

1939 Hawthorne Zep - Source:

1939 Hawthorne Zep – Source:

There have been many impressive bicycle designs throughout the velo era. Style, charm, artistry, utility, comfort, and form are each factors which determine whether a particular model will capture the buying public’s imagination. To this avid cyclist, the bicycle that captured both the fun and the shear elegance of non-competitive cycling more than any other bike was the Hawthorne Zep (short for Zeppelin) of the mid-to-late 1930s.


1937 Hawthorne Zep – Source:

Hawthorne Bicycles were built by both Cleveland Welding and Rollfast (H.P. Snyder) and were sold at Montgomery Ward department stores from the mid-1930s until 1960. From 1936 to 1939, the chain carried an exclusive version of the Zep (see photos above) which was the epitome of the art deco era on two wheels. Clean lines, graceful curves, distinctive features, and pure panache all make the Hawthorne Zep a masterpiece of art, design, and engineering. Priced at $39.95 in 1939, if you want one of these beauties in refurbished/mint condition today, it will set you back about $5,000 or more.

Hawthorn Zep speedometer - Source:

Hawthorn Zep speedometer – Source:

Here are a few more photos demonstrating the stylish elegance of this very cool vehicle. Enjoy!

1936 Zep - Source:

1936 Zep – Source:

1936 Zep front headlight - Source:

1936 Zep front headlight – Source:

1936 Zep rear reflector and curved fender - Source:

1936 Zep rear reflector and curved fender – Source:


This entry was posted in Active transportation, art, Bicycle Commuting, Bicycles, Bicycling, Bike Commuting, Biking, culture, Cycling, fun, historic preservation, history, Photos, pictures, product design, transportation, Velo and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The classiest bicycle ever made

  1. Tim Potter says:

    As my grandmother would have said “Now there’s a Looker!”. Lovely!


  2. Joe Flynn says:

    Starting in on a 1937 Hawthorne zep hanging tank, lots of pieces, don’t know if I should just put it back together again, PS looks like junk when done like that some rust some not
    I know it will lose value if I go full blown restoration. I will not be putting in shows,
    Any ideas thnxs Joe


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