Wednesday, September 05, 2018

1966 Schwinn Bicycle Catalog - Part 1

Steve Stuart (you may know him as "Nanook") has kindly scanned his copy of a classic piece of Disneyland ephemera - a 1966 Schwinn catalog! When I was a boy, Schwinn bikes seemed to the the brand that all of my friends had (and that I wanted). Huffy bikes?? Don't make me laugh. Give me that sparkly blue Sting-Ray with the banana seat and tall handlebars that were almost (but not quite) "ape hangers" - that's what my grandma and grandpa gave me for Christmas one year - it was the best present ever.

Text has been provided by Steve as well, so let's get to it! 


POST (1 of 3)
I have to admit I’ve never given any thought to tootling-around The Happiest Place on Earth on a bicycle – even a Sting-Ray – as most of us would happily settle for merely walking-around on foot through uncrowded walkways these times-!  But what a fun way to be the first person to ride the Matterhorn then by madly pedaling-away from the pack of early birds, leaving them in the dust as the rope drops in Town Square. HA-!  But before you get any ideas while browsing your way through these colorful pages, later on you’re given this reminder: “Although most of the photographs in this booklet were taken at Disneyland, bicycles are not permitted in the park at any time”.  Drat.  Wouldn’t you know-!!

As you can see from the copyright on Page 3, this publication dates from 1966.  And in the final installment, you’ll be able to see the postmark from this brochure as being that of April 7, 1966.  

Interestingly, Schwinn also ‘teamed-up’ with Universal Studios in 1967, and Knott’s Berry Farm in 1970 [for Schwinn’s 75th anniversary] to use those parks as backdrops for their catalog.  (Is anyone aware of any other amusement/theme parks as part of the ‘series’-?)

This definitely seems like a case of product placement – perhaps without payment in either direction – and it does seem like Schwinn approached Disney, but you never know.  In the “all business” pages of the brochure, there’s a rather prescient statement from the president of the American Heart Association:  “We ought to replace the automobile with bicycles… it would be better for our coronaries, our disposition, and certainly our finances”.

Most of the locations chosen to stand-in as backdrops are pretty familiar to most Disney-philes, so I’ll just let you-all enjoy the scenery, while you contemplate procuring an entire fleet of Schwinn bikes at ‘bargain basement prices’-!

More installments to follow.

I suddenly feel the need to ride a bike! Thanks to Steve Stuart for sharing part one of this catalog... part two will be along in about a week.


TokyoMagic! said...

Wow, such a great little brochure. How about riding a bike "down the icy slopes of the Matterhorn"? I guess the darn track would always be in the way. Thanks for sharing this gem, Nanook and Major! Oh and Major, my bikes were always "Free Spirit" from Sears. That just might be the bicycle equivalent of "Huskies" jeans. :-(

JC Shannon said...

Oh boy does this bring back great memories! My first ten speed was a Schwinn Varsity 1963 model. It was Lime green metalic. I had that bike until Jr. High.
Major said it all, a Schwinn was the Holy Grail of bikes in the 1960s. Ralphie can have his Red Ryder, that Varsity was the best Christmas present I ever got. These scans are awesome! Thanks to Steve (Nanook) and Major for the memories.

Melissa said...

Oh, wow! I never thought about riding a bike through Disneyland before, but now I want to do it so badly! And I love the paragraph font in the catalog - clean and simple.

My sister's and my childhood bikes were steel-blue Schwinns. They may have been 1960s models; they were certainly well-used by the time we got them! My sister's had the blue and white seat with the Schwinn "S," but mine had a seat Dad made out of wood, foam rubber, and a scrap of brown, textured Naugahyde. They were "two-speed' - stop or go. We kept them in an empty stall in the barn and pretended they were horses. They rode like a dream and never broke down. (Mom never let me ride in a skirt like the girls in the catalog!)


Schwinn also did a catalog ...either 1969 or 1970 on the Fox Studio sets of Hello Dolly .... some pretty amazing shots of the 1890 New York sets! It must have been shortly after filming as the horse drawn streetcars and other Street props are vehicles are still out .

Melissa said...

I went looking for more information on "The Schwinn Motion Picture 'Magic of the Bicycle,'" but all I could find were quotes from other Schwinn catalogs, and one 1960s local TV listing from an Idaho newspaper.

I did get to looking at the catalogs, though, and I'm pretty sure my bike was a Schwinn Breeze from either the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Stefano said...

Thanks, Nanook and Major, as a kid if I hadn't at first considered Schwinn to be the coolest bicycle, I would have after seeing this brochure. Corporate sponsorships and product placements which could seem obnoxious in other contexts took on prestige with Disneyland in the background, and I was quite the brand loyalist as a kid. Now of course one may not look on Monsanto and Bank of America too kindly, but remember that B of A brochure tied in with It's a Small World?
I was sold!

Quite a lot of non-Disney companies used the park for atmosphere in photo shoots and magazine stories during those early years; there was even a 1966 Playboy Playmate photographed enjoying herself in Tomorrowland I, especially on the Flying Saucers, though I doubt the park was asked permission for the shoot.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Fascinating! I never new about this booklet. Thanks Steve and Major! Bikes and Disneyland--two of my favorite subjects!

One of my first jobs was "wrenching" as a bike mechanic at Agoura Schwinn, a family-run Schwinn shop. My first high-end racing bike was a Schwinn Paramount, a beautiful hand-made frame in "Electric Blue." I dressed it up with Dura-Ace components. This was back when the Schwinn company was still family-owned.

K. Martinez said...

Nice booklet. Thanks for sharing, Steve.

Anonymous said...

This is great fun. I love how the catalog has to explain Disneyland.

I envy all of you city kids who had Schwinn bikes, they were beyond my country-bumpkin reach. I had a no-name bike with high-rise handlebars and a coaster brake, probably from Sears, but at least it was purple.

Also wore "Huskies".

Thanks for sharing, "Nanook" and Major, enjoying the look back.


Matthew said...

Thank you Nanook for sharing your catalog and Major for posting it. One little thing to note... and it could just be my eyes... but does it look like a pair of "green" antlers are behind the second flag pole from the left in the 3rd photo (Schwinn Paramount)? I found that to be an odd shape in a familiar photo of the Frontier Landing.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Anonymous said...

Each year, I looked forward to the Christmas catalog that was mailed out from Western Auto and drooled over the bikes. I never ended up with a Schwinn though...those were too expensive for the family. No helmets needed back then. These pics were taken on one of the days (Mon-Tues) Disneyland was closed during the off-season. I'm lucky to have had a chance to experience those days as a CM, walking around and enjoying the place to myself. Wish I could do it now! KS

Irene said...

In your follow up, will there be pictures from the catalog that showed the bikes at Knotts?

I don't remember riding bikes much as a kid. Just wasn't my thing I guess. My brother got a nice one for Christmas one year as I remember seeing it in old home movies. I did have the coolest, best looking red three wheel trike when I was learning to ride though. A very sturdy made in America early 1950's model.

Nanook said...

Think 'training wheels'. The abominable snowman would have nothing on you-!

JC Shannon-
My first [real] bike was a Schwinn Varsity 8 in Sky Blue. It sounds like a slightly downsized Varsity 10, but either the Marquis de Sade or Jack LaLanne had a hand in the design, as it seemed the two, lowest gears were given the heave-ho, so even at its lowest gear setting, some extra muscle power was needed to ply up hills. Annoying at the time, but it did result in some nice-sized calf muscles, which have stuck around all this time.

One can only imagine the total chaos created if Guests were allowed to 'bicycle thru Disneyland'-! Even back in the halcyon days of the Park just think of the terror it would unleash. And it sounds as though you had either the coolest bicycle or the most-embarrassing one in the neighborhood.

Mike Cozart-
I forgot about the 1969 catalog with 2oth Century-Fox as backdrop. "Hello Dolly", and the facades used [at that time] in "Peyton Place" were featured. I think that was the catalog showing the Schwinn Unicycle on the back cover.

Melissa II-
Why does the Schwinn 'Breeze' sound as if it was named to appeal to girls-?

I think there's always a 'tipping point' where advertising/corporate sponsorship becomes too much. "Back then", for many of us at least, that point had yet to be crossed. Nowadays, all bets are off, unfortunately. A Playboy bunny on a Flying Saucer. Why does that sound so right-?

Steve DeGaetano-
A Schwinn Paramount-! I AM jealous. That was a real beauty. If the models in the brochure had a bit more moxie, they'd be turning their Paramount's around and boarding the Mark Twain.

Ken Martinez-
You're welcome.

"Huskies", you say-? They're still sold today. "Boyville" & "Girlville" were names Sears first offered in the 1920's & 30's to identify primarily outerwear, usually of mid-quality. "Pilgrim" was the name given to their more top-of-the-line clothing. I believe the "...ville" names lasted thru the 1960's, and the Pilgrim name, thru 1964.

That's exactly what they are: Antlers. LOOKIE HERE. (Thank you Daveland)

I can imagine the fun of walking thru a deserted Disneyland - especially on a recurring basis. Back in 1981, thanks to a friend who worked at WDW, I had the opportunity to walk thru the Magic Kingdom after closing, probably some time in November of that year. It was the most-surreal experience, as everything "appeared" 'as normal' - only the shop doors were closed and locked. The show lights, music, [and back then, especially] all the water features were running. And I swear I never saw another soul as I walked-around the entire park, starting and ending in Town Square.

Unfortunately, no - just the brochure featuring Disneyland. I know there are some pictures floating-around on the internet showing some of the images from the year Knotts Berry Farm was featured.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I was sort of joking about Schwinn being the the only bikes worth having. We certainly had plenty of stuff (clothes!) from Sears. It’s funny how kids can be manipulated into being brand-conscious though… I wanted a Duncan yo-yo SO much. Not any other yo-yo, it had to be a Duncan. Preferably a “butterfly” yo-yo.

Jonathan, oh, lime green sounds pretty awesome. Those designers knew what appealed to kids!

Melissa, yes, ever since a DVD showed home movies of Walt riding a bike through an incomplete Tomorrowland, I thought that a bike was the only way to go. As for the font, what do you think? Helvetica medium? Futura? There are so many.

Mike Cozart, I have the Fox Studios catalog, as well as two Knott’s catalogs. They did one at Universal Studios too, but it is very disappointing.

Melissa II, too bad that movie isn’t in the Prelinger Archives at

Stefano, I don’t know if I was exposed to lots of Schwinn commercials, or if I saw the bikes in Sears “wish books”, or how I became so aware of Schwinn and why I wanted one so badly. Obviously my grandparents got the message though, because they got one for my older brother and one for me. It was amazing. And you’re right, at least in my case a Disneyland tie-in automatically made a product or corporation aces in my book. I need to see that Playboy photo shoot with the Playmate on the flying saucers!

Steve DeGaetano, Nanook did all the heavy lifting in today’s post. I just get all the glory and the millions of dollars. Agoura Schwinn! Agoura is very close to where my mom lives. I wonder if the Schwinn company was sold due to flagging sales, or if flagging sales happened after it was no longer a family-owned enterprise?

K. Martinez, I was pretty sure you would dig this!

JG, I’ll be you loved your no-name bike just as much as I loved my Schwinn. When I think about it, it is kind of astonishing how far my brother and I would go on our bikes. We would even ride them to the beach (Huntington Beach), leave them unlocked while we played in the surf, and nobody ever stole them, amazingly.

Matthew, I see the green antlers too! Maybe Doctor Seuss had stopped by.

KS, if my grandparents hadn’t given those bikes to me and my brother, we would have never had them. My Navy mom and dad took us to places like the commissary to get clothes (stiff jeans that would survive space re-entry) and get our hair cut at the local beauty college. We got some really bad haircuts!

Irene, I would be happy to scan my Knott’s/Schwinn catalogs if folks seem interested. There is one from 1970 and another from 1976. It’s very cool that, for many years, Schwinn took photos at many California landmarks for their annual catalogs.

Nanook, thanks again for sharing!

Matthew said...

Thanks Nanook for the reference! Wow... I have never seen those before... but now I have!

Always your pal,

Melissa said...

"And it sounds as though you had either the coolest bicycle or the most-embarrassing one in the neighborhood."

definitely the former; it was a really professional-looking job.

And I would love seeing the Knitt's edition!


Chuck said...

Every time I walk into a tire shop, the smell makes me think of the Schwinn dealerships in two of the towns I lived in as a kid. They were just filled with that smell, and I associate it with good times.

My parents had matching "sierra brown" Schwinns (my dad a Continental and my mom a Varsity), and my sister and I logged a lot of miles on matching child seats on the back. Family friends bought Schwinns identical to ours - complete with identical child seats - only their bikes were painted "kool lemon." We took a lot of bike rides with them, including a memorable spin around Golden Gate Park.

My first bike was a Huffy Rough & Tough (the boy's version of this bike), but my first ten-speed was a 20" Schwinn Varsity. I later took over my dad's Continental, and later still my mom gave her Varsity to my wife. They were a lot of fun to ride around Fort Wilderness when we camped there over the MK's 25th birthday.

For anyone interested, here's a neat site focusing on vintage Schwinn bikes. They have a decent collection of catalogs, but the photos aren't scanned at a terribly high resolution and most of the text has been retyped by the site owners. While they're easy to read and include some good reference links, I know I'd love to see some higher-quality scans of yours if you're willing to post them, Major.

Melissa, I know what you meant, but now I'm envisioning a knit edition of the catalog. It would have to be enormous to be readable. The folks who made it would have a great yarn to tell, though.

Irene said...

I'm interested in seeing the Knotts scans. Knotts is my hangout now :)

Melissa said...
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