Cushman Golf Cart History

By Mike Camunas

Cushman is one of the more well-known golf cart brands in the history of recreational golf. In fact, Cushman was one of the main golf cart companies that helped bring efficient and easy-to-manage carts to courses nationwide. For over five decades, Cushman has been a popular golf cart among golfers on all levels, whether its restoring a vintage cart from the 1960s or building a classic, personalized Cushman from the ground up.
 

History

In 1901, Everette and Clinton Cushman founded Cushman Motor Works to produce gasoline motors. but the Cushmans ended up leaving in 1919. It wasn't until 1936 that new owner Charles Ammon started making scooters, and then it wasn't until 1955 that Cushman introduced its first three-wheel golf cart, followed by the four-wheel model.
In 1957 Outboard Marine Corporation bought the company, and four years later it unveiled the Trucksters and the "Shark Nosed" model 735 golf cart, which were produced until 1967 and were powered by electricity. In 1964 Cushman started producing the fiberglass body model 436, and until 1970 they juggled models between electric and gas, including the 736 Deluxe Golfster; its higher-end model came with headlight and a horn. During the late 1960's, their most popular four-wheel model was the Gran Cushman Golfster model GC-400, which could either be gas or electric and was made with a steel body.
Cushman dominated courses until Harley Davidson introduced its gas model. Cushman continued to dominate the electric cart market until it stopped producing carts in 1975. In 1989, Cushman was purchased by Ransomes Limited, which was then purchased by Textron in 1998. Trextron owns E-Z-GO. Cushmans are still built by Textron's Jacobsen Golf.

Parts

Cushman doesn't have any brand-name parts parts still available since there is no longer an actual Cushman plant. Most of the cart parts available to restore or fix a Cushman cart are mass-produced and fit most makes and models. These can usually be purchased via online classifieds and vintage cart websites. A wide variety of parts are available, including body kits, belts, batteries, clutches and transmissions. There are also many accessories available, including side and rear-view mirrors, gauges and headlights. Cushmans produced both electric and gas models, and motor and engine parts are still available.

Significance

Dubbed Golf Cars by Cushman, golf carts were introduced in the 1950's and were backed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was an avid golfer who started using the carts to get around the course after he suffered a heart attack. Into the 1960's, celebrity golfers such as Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell and Ann-Margaret used personalized Cushmans.

Time Frame

Cushman golf carts and scooters were introduced in the 1930's and the evolution of its "golf cars" came over the next four decades. Its heyday was in the 1960's, but the most technological innovations came in the late 1950's as company engineers tried to figure out the best designs and most energy-efficient models in both gas or electric.

Identification

For years, Cushmans were mainly three-wheel golf carts, but they eventually expanded to four wheels. Many of the vintage carts that are around or restored are three wheels with a body kit that covers the front wheel. The Cushman logo is generally found on the carts. Today, Cushman provides a variety of golf cart options bearing the Cushman logo. 

About The Author

Mike Camunas is also reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, covering local golf in the Tampa Bay area, from events to golfers hitting hole in ones, to even covering the professional events that hit town. He has been playing golf for about 11 years and has not seen his handicap lower. Maybe one day, but he'll stick to his day job for now.

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