Helen Wheels started life as a 1953 Columbia 20" kids cruiser, was modified in the muscle bike rage of the '60s, and resto-modded and brought back to her glory by this guy in his 60s this August.
Named after my grandma Helen, who was a bit of a 'hot rodder' in her 60s when she 'freed' this bike from the school playground where she was the janitor and grounds keeper for a little grade school in a small Southern Minnesota town. We used to ride the bike at her house when we'd visit. She later gave the bike to us when she moved in to an apt and didn't have room to store it.
Helen's ride in those years was a 1970 Ford Torino, in the iconic color Anti-Establish Mint green. For real. She had a lead foot, and proudly declared, "I can beat anybody off the light in this car." And then she did.
This build is dedicated to my wild and crazy grandma Helen, and her Ford Torino.
Build thread can be found here for build process, and a few other funny stories about Helen.
And some highlight photos along the way....
Here's how the bike looked when we rode it back in the day; and how it was when we resurrected it out of my brother's garage attic in early August.
The original Columbia bike would have been similar to this model:
And the inspiration, the Ford Torino :
There were 4 colors of paint on her frame :
Three more colors, wouldn't hurt...
The seats and upholstery in grandma's Torino were a spruce green. So this seat got the same treatment:
Because it had a Schwinn badge on the head tube, and it wasn't a Schwinn, it needed it's own brand. I created the 'BACK40' head badge using a etching process on aluminum sheet metal.
Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane. There's nothing better than a spin on your muscle bike through the neighborhood park. Till next time....
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