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Unique Varsity Collectors Value?

Old 05-13-17, 03:59 PM
  #1  
TiHabanero
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Unique Varsity Collectors Value?

In 1978 Schwinn held a raffle for a gold plated (electroplated) Varsity at the dealer show in Florida. The raffle was constructed like so: Schwinn completely disassembled a Varsity and put all the pieces in a container and invited the dealers to estimate the number of parts in the container. They had 3 days in which to enter their guess, one entry per dealer. The closest guess won the bike. Many of the dealers called their shops and had them disassemble a varsity, count the parts and relay that info to them at the show. My friend, Jack, simply disassembled the bike in his head and made a mental tally of the number of parts it took to build the bike. His entry was exactly the number of parts, and was the only dealer to nail it, thus he was awarded the gold plated Varsity. Rudy Schwinn presented to Jack, the bike along with a plaque to document the award.
Jack and his wife want to know at what value to insure the bike as they still have it along with the plaque from Ruby Schwinn. I figured someone here on this forum will be able to give some guidelines on value or direct me to a lead in finding out.
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Old 05-13-17, 04:52 PM
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We all enjoy photos of bikes Please post some.

Your bike would be difficult to put a value to as there may not be any (many) like it. A pristine out of the box Schwinn Varsity rarely hits $500. More like $300 absolute max.

Of course, even plated steel can rust or experience wear over time, so actual condition is important.

But, you have a unique exemplar. The bike itself may be worth on the order of a couple grand, but the potential to snag a collector for it could drive prices up much higher. I wouldn't go over the top on it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it could sell for $10,000, if one was patient trying to sell it.

Insuring an irreplaceable object is always complex.

How completely was the bike disassembled?

Let's see:
2 tires
2 tubes
2 valve cores
2 valve caps
36 nipples
36 spokes
2 rims
2 hub shells
2 axles
4 axle cones
4 axle lock nuts
4 axle nuts (Simpler without skewers)
18 rear bearings?
22 front bearings?
Cages?

Whew... the number of parts could add up.

I can imagine that someone at the show that could look at the pile of parts to see how it was counted could do better than trying to relay the information back to a shop, especially if the parts were organized in a display.
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Old 05-13-17, 08:04 PM
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Old 05-13-17, 08:09 PM
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I couldnt imagine a bike like that being worth more than a few hundred bucks unless there are some super serious Schwinn collectors I'm unaware of, which I guess is possible.
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Old 05-13-17, 08:10 PM
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This Varsity was discussed at length in 2011 right here:
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...d-varsity.html
unless there was more than one given away at those dealers conventions BITD.
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Old 05-13-17, 08:16 PM
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Even with the Gold plate which looks iffy and the nice story it's still a 78 Varsity so it's hard to give it much of any additional collectors value. As presented with bad tires and and needing a full service. I would say $200, I have seen several of these gold charity varsities so there not supper unique, Schwinn made several thousand of these during the run of the Varsity for charity auctions pretty every dealership got one. Last couple I saw they only got $300-400 in perfect condition at auction.

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Old 05-13-17, 08:45 PM
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I think this bike is not for riding, but its value to a collector may be substantial. Would look great in display. I would not be surprised to see it pass $1000 in a well run action.
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Old 05-13-17, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
In 1978 Schwinn held a raffle for a gold plated (electroplated) Varsity at the dealer show in Florida.
That convention was in 1973, at the peak of the bicycle boom. More on the bike here: https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...d-varsity.html

That bike should be worth $1K to the right collector, maybe more.
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Old 05-13-17, 10:44 PM
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Don't know what that is worth to someone but that is not a bike. It is a work of art! Simply Gorgeous IMHO....

Max Bryant
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Old 05-14-17, 02:37 AM
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The problem, of course, is finding a couple serious Schwinn collectors. Perhaps they are all cheap. There was a collection of about 50 Schwinns that popped up on Craigslist locally about 2 years ago. Special racks built for all the bikes..

If there were still Schwinn shops, the bike could be a ceterpiece display, but alas,most of them are long gone, and the new Schwinns apparently have a different marketing approach.

I'm wondering why the company chose to do a custom one-off Varsity (or did they do several?) Why not gold plate their top of the line Paramount?
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Old 05-14-17, 04:46 AM
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Good Lord those front dropouts are ugly. Another reason I'm not a schwinn fan.
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Old 05-14-17, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
The problem, of course, is finding a couple serious Schwinn collectors. Perhaps they are all cheap. There was a collection of about 50 Schwinns that popped up on Craigslist locally about 2 years ago. Special racks built for all the bikes..

If there were still Schwinn shops, the bike could be a ceterpiece display, but alas,most of them are long gone, and the new Schwinns apparently have a different marketing approach.

I'm wondering why the company chose to do a custom one-off Varsity (or did they do several?) Why not gold plate their top of the line Paramount?

IMO, back in the day, the varsity reflected what Schwinn bikes major selling points were. A major league heavy duty bile that a parent could buy for their kid and last nearly forever. The frame and fork as well as the wheels were bot only bullet proof they were nuclear bomb proof. In the far future when only cockroaches have survived, they will be crawling on the still straight and true tubes of a Varsity. The parent did not typically worry about weight, and to a large segment of middle America, European was an insult. Those of us who bought and rode lightweight Euro-bikes were fringe lunatics who likely would do drugs and have sex with near strangers. I still recall my dad insisting that I did not want a "10 speed" because I would strip the gears. After working in a bike shop for several years, and riding my "10-speeds" for some 45 years now, I still do not know what, or how stripped gears in the context of a derailleur shifted bike refers to, and certainty have never seen nor experienced that.

Against this backdrop, the Varsity was the aircraft carrier in the fleet. Make total sense to me to have the Varsity bear the banner on this project.
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Old 05-14-17, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
IMO, back in the day, the varsity reflected what Schwinn bikes major selling points were.
Ok, so you're a car manufacturer.

Do you make a gold plated Ford Pinto (the car for the people), or a gold plated Mustang, a car with a little more ROAR?

I remember going into the local Schwinn shop as a kid. I don't remember which bikes were which, but they were always fun to drool over. But, I have to admit that I wasn't looking at the Varsity and Collegiate bikes. Even as a young teenager, I knew the difference.

But, then again, I was also the only kid at our school that commuted to high school on a Colnago Super, riding sewups.
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Old 05-14-17, 01:31 PM
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I stated my opinion on what Schwinn's rational might have been to explain the fact that they did gold plate the Varsity. Feel free to discuss what you think they should have done, but the fact is they did the Varsity. I too commuted on first a Motobecanne Grand Record and later a Holdsworth Strada, both with sew-ups. But there was about 6 of us like that.
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