Gary's Restorations

Preserving our transportation history, one piece at a time.

1935 Elgin Bluebird
I found this bike in a warehouse in Stockton, California in April, 2011. The bikes owner had been collecting vintage bikes for 40 years. I have found that if you offer one of these guys a fair price, most of them will sell parts of their collection. It was stored in a barn for many years in the Stockton area. It was in very rough condition with serious rust out damage in the tank and missing many critical parts. When I bought the bike home and my wife saw this rusty hulk – she had that “Have you lost your mind look on her face” - a look that most restorers have gotten from their spouse. Interestingly enough, in the course of restoring this bike over a 6 month period – I thought many times that I had in fact lost my mind. It was in such bad condition that I thought I would never get it right. But perseverance does pay off. Just the electric horn required 3 days to restore and make operational. I thought that at this rate I would never finish the entire bike. But 400 long hours later - it looks great. Fortunately, everything on this bike now works - horn, lights, battery, switches and speedometer. After doing extensive research on the bike, I was able to locate all the missing parts. I based the restoration on detailed drawings of the bike from the original drawings that were submitted to the U.S. Patent Office in 1936. The bike has too many unique design features to list here. But it was granted a patent from the U.S. Patent Office for its unique frame design – one of the few bikes to receive such a patent in the 1930’s. The Elgin Bluebird is considered the premier prewar collectors bike because of its unique art deco styling, frame design and rarity. Elgin produced about 4000 of these bikes from 1935 to 1937 and they sold for a cost of $52. This was about two months salary for the average worker if you were lucky enough to have a job during the Great Depression. There are about 25 restored Bluebirds known to exist today. I believe that this is one of the best and most authentic restorations of this model. This is the first year of this model – it is like owning a 1954 Corvette – first year of a classic. I also plan to sell this bike in an upcoming auction.