I picked up a bike recently and I am having a difficult time trying to determine the model. It is definitely a Schwinn. Serial #J0 14534 which puts it at Sep of 1960. The bike has been repainted dark green over an original blue and has poorly applied decals indicating it as a Fair Lady.
The frame is the same ladies type for all of the following models; Fair Lady, Co-Ed, Starlet, Debutante, Hollywood, Spitfire and Tornado (non-tank versions). There are two key differences between the first 5 and the last two. One is that the far left end of the chain guard on the first 5 comes to a non-90 degree angle and extends past the right seat stay and on the last two, the left end of the chain guard is a 90 degree angle and does not extend past the right seat stay. Also, on the first 5, the top of the fork has a chrome cover that fits over the top with points coming down the sides of the fork (about 1 1/4"). This piece is removable. The last two do not have this chrome piece. You can see all of this in the catalog pictures.
Here's the mystery. Everyone of the 7 bikes was available in blue, so no help there. However, the chain guard on this bike is of the variety seen on the Spitfire or the Tornado BUT the fork has the chrome piece which was only found on the first 5. One other clue that makes me lean towards the latter 2 is that it has the original black wall tires while the first 5 models appear to have all come with white walls.
But how to explain then the chrome piece on the fork?
I would like to restore this but want to get the model right for decal puposes.
Do not expect a Schwinn bike from the early '60's to have exact parts spec in agreement with the catalogs.
I've found certified un-molested bikes from that era which deviate in parts spec between models and model years as shown in the catalogs.
The catalogs were written at a certain time of year, but the details of the bicycle's construction clearly was not perfectly synchronized with the release date of the catalogs. Parts inventory often dictated changes months before or after (usually before) the catalog date as indicated by serial number.
My 1962 Continenatal, dated Aug '62, has features of the subsequent catalog model year, as well as of the SuperContinental model.
They just weren't so fussy about it being to catalog spec in those days, and most catalogs announce that all specifications are subject to change. I've seen 1963 catalogs from Peugeot that had component details rubber-stamped over, but I don't think Schwinn bothered with that. Maybe it was just the distributor who re-stamped those Peugeot catalogs, heck it was almost surely the distributor who translated and printed them in the first place.
Yes...except for the addition of an 8th model using that frame (Flying Star...with a tank), nothing changed form the 1960 catalog (including the colors). I guess one explanation is that either the fork or the chain guard was replaced at some point and the correct match for the model type was not paid particular attention.
Here's a pic...note the seat is also not the classic two-tone (which was just released the year before I believe), so that is obviously a replacement at some point (but the fact that the hand grips are also black is interesting???). They also lost the original head badge which was the larger type (3 1/4" between screw holes) and slapped on the later shorter version (just attaching the top screw).