Barn-Find 1952 Schwinn Hornet value?

Help Support Rat Rod Bikes:

Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I got this 1952 Schwinn Hornet straight bar a couple months ago, and I'm trying to figure out how much it's worth, and what to do with it. It looks to be mostly intact, though it's missing the front wheel (the one pictured is just something I had,) the back third of the rear rack, the original grips and possibly a tank. I paid $40 for this bike, which is crazy cheap in my opinion, but as much as I wanted this bike, I've got a problem with it.

I've wanted to build a Schwinn straight bar for a while now, and while I've had a couple before this one, they were all pretty rough and incomplete. This one is nice and straight, and it even has the original paint, patina'd to perfection... which is kind of the problem. I really want to paint this bike up my own way, but that means removing the original paint that has survived untouched by anything more than time and the elements for almost 70 years. I love bikes with custom paint jobs, but at the same time, I'm kind of a purist, and I'd hate to remove the original rusty red paint. It really doesn't help that red is one of my least favorite colors, and I've already got 2 red bikes in my relatively small collection that I'm leaving the paint untouched. I really don't want another red bike, even though the paint and patina look nice on this one.

So with that being said, I'm contemplating either selling or hopefully trading this Schwinn straight bar for at least one other Schwinn straight bar that is either missing the original paint or has been repainted in a way that won't make me feel guilty about doing it up my way. I'd rather see this bike go to someone who'll appreciate the original surviving paint better than I do. So, realistically speaking, what's this Hornet worth? If I put it up for sale, how much could I expect to sell it for? If I could trade it, would it be possible to get more than one bike in equal or worse condition, at least as far as paint goes? Or, would it be best for me to just ignore the guilt and just paint and build this Schwinn the way I want?

DSC_8237.jpg
DSC_8244.jpg
DSC_8249.jpg
DSC_8256.jpg
DSC_8262.jpg
DSC_8269.jpg
DSC_8277.jpg
DSC_8282.jpg
DSC_8288.jpg
DSC_8296.jpg
DSC_8302.jpg
DSC_8306.jpg
DSC_8311.jpg
DSC_8319.jpg
DSC_8323.jpg
DSC_8329.jpg
DSC_8334.jpg
DSC_8340.jpg
DSC_8345.jpg
DSC_8354.jpg
DSC_8361.jpg
DSC_8366.jpg
DSC_8376.jpg
DSC_8379.jpg
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Paint it. It isn't a rare bike, and most importantly it is yours, bought and paid for, to do with as you please.
Thanks. I'm still not sure I want to modify it just yet, but given how many people are telling me I should do what I want with it on both here and The C.A.B.E., I just might go through with it.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Okay, I've received a lot of valuable input about whether I should customize this bike or not, but something I'd appreciate your help on, as it's a key factor in whether I keep and customize this bike or not, is what my Schwinn is worth. I'm not ruling out the possibility of selling or trading this bike, especially if I can replace it with a guilt-free canvas, so based on what I have and what I don't have, how much would you say this bike is worth?
 
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
536
Reaction score
1,593
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
In my market (Illinois, land of the Schwinn) you would get my attention at $150 but I would dicker it down to $80 - $125 after a close up scrutiny. It has a lot of potential but by the time I would subtract for the missing wheel and busted rack, plus probably needing a 1/2" pitch conversion, pedals replaced or repaired, fresh tires & tubes, it would be at the ceiling of what I would invest in it. Take that with a grain of salt though because that is how I would approach it as a buyer here locally.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
In my market (Illinois, land of the Schwinn) you would get my attention at $150 but I would dicker it down to $80 - $125 after a close up scrutiny. It has a lot of potential but by the time I would subtract for the missing wheel and busted rack, plus probably needing a 1/2" pitch conversion, pedals replaced or repaired, fresh tires & tubes, it would be at the ceiling of what I would invest in it. Take that with a grain of salt though because that is how I would approach it as a buyer here locally.
Gotcha. Hey, I appreciate the feedback. It helps. Nothing wrong with your approach.
 

Gravelgrinder59

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2021
Messages
467
Reaction score
1,333
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I agree with Couch tater on pricing. Ultimately you should build as you like, but I’m gonna go against the trend here, I love green bikes as Matti stated and I don’t have problem with you painting, But why don’t you at least try to see how much you can clean frame up the way it is? Get rid of fenders, wheels, rack and concentrate on frame. To me the character to that frame is the original darts/scrolls. The main triangle I can see red, the stays are pretty crusty, but may just be years of dirt. You don’t have to soak in oxalic ( not sure got right?), if you use wet dry sandpaper 600g or coarser ( if needed) with wd-40 instead of water you may be surprised how good you can get it to look. Alot of that staining on white graphic's can be removed, and I’m sure there’s a lot of red under that rust. I’m into 1930’s art deco wagons the first one was solid rust, look what was underneath it
4007BC69-606B-4551-A992-D33831384281.jpeg
this one was too far gone but graphics still good, so I sprayed with flat red and wet dried back to expose lettering
263C66D0-3E1B-47C0-B1B8-167A3C15C4A6.jpeg
someone with untrained eye would think it was original paint. Had same results with bikes, these are just in the house and easy to show. Guys on the Cabe will tell you to do what you want cuz it’s not worth a couple of grand. You may find a bike one day worth thousands, the more original you keep it the more it’s worth to a lot of people. So I encourage you to experiment on this first. If you dicide to paint it,geat, but at least you’ll have gained the experience of trying to work original paint back to life. With new components that frame would be cool,cleaned up original. The scratches in the white can be touched up it you know what your doing. Anyone can build a painted schwinn, but not anyone can bring the frame of this old lady back to life from this condition, but you could be one of them or at least give it a try.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 5, 2021
Messages
34
Reaction score
65
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
......Kidding of course !!!
Disclaimer ,I'm new to this hobby but I have to say after purchasing my first old bike a year ago , restoring / rad rodding / etc and accumulating 7 more in the process , the contemplating question of " do I restore to original or customize" is one I find super interesting. I guess you have to have a certain expertise to know what "finds" are rare and should never be repainted/etc but I find myself leaning towards restoring old bikes to keep as much nostalgia but have really good comfort and performance ( if your going to ride them a lot like me). I come from a hard core mountain bike background ( and have a few high end mountain bikes ) but I love riding these old bikes which are way more fun with an extended seat post , more comfy saddle, and decent handle bars.
I love your term , " guilt free canvas" !! I feel the same way ! I ended up with a re-painted canti frame ( 50's I think ) as my first repaint attempt so I will feel totally guilt free when I embark on that ha ha ! I also have two black cantilever frames so I guess Ill restore one / customize-repaint the other maybe?
I guess what I'm saying is I feel ya bro and go with your gut !!
Happy New year !
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Ok I’m gonna go against the trend here, I love green bikes as Matti stated and I don’t have problem with you painting, But why don’t you at least try to see how much you can clean frame up the way it is? Get rid of fenders, wheels, rack and concentrate on frame. To me the character to that frame is the original darts/scrolls. The main triangle I can see red, the stays are pretty crusty, but may just be years of dirt. You don’t have to soak in oxalic ( not sure got right?), if you use wet dry sandpaper with wd-40 instead of water you may be surprised how good you can get it to look. Alot of that staining on white graphic's can be removed, and I’m sure there’s a lot of red under that rust. I’m into art deco wagons the first one was solid rust, look what was underneath itView attachment 181836this one was too far gone but graphics still good, so I sprayed with flat red and wet dried back to expose letteringView attachment 181837someone with untrained eye would think it was original paint. So I encourage you to experiment first, paint later. If you dicide to paint it,geat, but at least you’ll have gained the experience of trying to work original paint back to life. With new components that frame would be cool,cleaned up original. The scratches in the white can be touched up it you know what your doing. I agree with Couch tater on pricing. Anyone can build a painted schwinn, but not anyone can bring this old lady back to life from this condition, but you could be one of them.
I definitely like your idea, and this would be a good bike to practice bringing back the original paint, but I actually kind of like the rust on the bike. My problem with it is the paint color; I'm not a big fan of red. I've already got 2 original paint red bikes that I plan to leave that way, and with my bike collection being as small as it is, I don't really want a third red bike at this time. The other problem is that I'm seriously considering selling or trading this bike for at least one "guilt free canvas" bike that I can paint and build the way I want. I've got a couple folks who seemed genuinely interested in this bike the way it is, and a few folks on the C.A.B.E. suggested it might even be worth $300 to the right guy. So as much as I'd like to tinker with this bike and do my own thing to it, it might be better for me to sell it to or exchange it with someone who'll appreciate the paint and patina more than I do.

By the way, those art deco wagons are SWEET! That Hy-Speed wagon looks especially cool.
 

Gravelgrinder59

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2021
Messages
467
Reaction score
1,333
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Most the fun for me is cleaning stuff up. I’m not the biggest fan of red either, but I’ve got a few red bikes. Good luck with whatever direction you go. If you like the rust, put boiled linseed oil on it.( it would look great)! If you haven’t used it before, you should put some on this frame , you’ll like the result. Just dont keep used linseed oil rags in garage. Almost burnt my garage down, highly combustible!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
......Kidding of course !!!
Disclaimer ,I'm new to this hobby but I have to say after purchasing my first old bike a year ago , restoring / rad rodding / etc and accumulating 7 more in the process , the contemplating question of " do I restore to original or customize" is one I find super interesting. I guess you have to have a certain expertise to know what "finds" are rare and should never be repainted/etc but I find myself leaning towards restoring old bikes to keep as much nostalgia but have really good comfort and performance ( if your going to ride them a lot like me). I come from a hard core mountain bike background ( and have a few high end mountain bikes ) but I love riding these old bikes which are way more fun with an extended seat post , more comfy saddle, and decent handle bars.
I love your term , " guilt free canvas" !! I feel the same way ! I ended up with a re-painted canti frame ( 50's I think ) as my first repaint attempt so I will feel totally guilt free when I embark on that ha ha ! I also have two black cantilever frames so I guess Ill restore one / customize-repaint the other maybe?
I guess what I'm saying is I feel ya bro and go with your gut !!
Happy New year !
You got me in the first half, not gonna lie!

I'm still relatively new to the hobby (less than 4 years,) so I can't say I'm an expert on what bikes are rare/valuable either. I've got a few bikes I'm mildly restoring, but I really love customizing bikes more than anything. I may not have a ton of background riding bikes, but I've always been a fan of custom cars, and I'm an illustrator/graphic designer by trade. Building and modifying vintage bikes for me is like building custom cars on the cheap, and it's allowed me to push my creativity and artistic skills in new directions at the same time. It's a genuine rush for me to take some old worn-out bike and redesign it with different parts, paints and graphics! I'm usually not much of a purist, but I'm weary of modifying untouched survivor bikes, especially ones this old.

Thanks! Yeah, most of the bikes I customize have either been repainted, or have lost most of their original paint to begin with. Sounds like you've got a few good projects to work on!

Thanks! Happy New Year to you as well!
 

Gravelgrinder59

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2021
Messages
467
Reaction score
1,333
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I wouldn’t feel bad doing whatever you want to that bike. I used to be more of a Cabe kinda guy. I now like the creativity involved with building these bikes. Don’t get me wrong still enjoy nice old originals, but fun for me now is to build something from nothing, not to just wheel a beaut into a row in my collection.The old bike collector still shows in me , in that I like original paint when possible.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I wouldn’t feel bad doing whatever you want to that bike. I used to be more of a Cabe kinda guy. I now like the creativity involved with building these bikes. Don’t get me wrong still enjoy nice old originals, but fun for me now is to build something from nothing, not to just wheel a beaut into a row in my collection.The old bike collector still shows in me , in that I like original paint when possible.
Thanks. Yeah, I like old originals too, have a few of them myself, but what I really love are custom bikes. That's pretty much why I spend more time browsing this site more than the C.A.B.E. Plus there's less attitude here, which is a major bonus. I may not ride my bikes a whole lot (mostly because I only had my neighborhood to ride around until I recently got a hitch and rack for my car,) but each of my bikes are play bikes, not display bikes. I've tried collecting/flipping bikes before, and I've had a little success with that, but I'm in this hobby for the joy of building and customizing bikes for myself, not for collector's value or making money.

I'll see about posting this bike for sale/trade on the bike forums and craigslist. If I don't sell or trade it by a certain time, then I might just build this bike the way I want.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
2,032
Location
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I've got another idea for this bike, one that would be a decent balance between maintaining the original paint, as well as customizing it in a way I like. I brought it home tonight so I could do some mockups later. If I like the idea enough, I might just keep the Schwinn and build it during the next Build Off or something. If I don't like how it looks, I might just sell or trade the bike for one I'd feel more comfortable building however I want.
 

Latest posts

Top