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