Since its introduction to the Schwinn line-up in 1938, one particular model: the Schwinn Paramount represented the top of the heap in American lightweight racing bicycles. It became the ultimate aspiration of every young American racer and bike builder in the 60s and 70s. They were considered one of the few American bikes that could compete head-to-head with the great racing bikes being imported from Europe at the time. For many people, the bikes from those decades, with their Reynolds 531 tubing and (usually chromed) Nervex lugs pretty much define the image of a "classic" bike.
While the Paramount line was for many years built in the big Chicago Schwinn factory (1856 N Kostner Ave, Chicago, IL 60639), in a special corner of the factory known as "the cage" -- in the 1980s, the Paramount production was moved to Waterford, Wisconsin under the leadership of Marc Muller. After Schwinn went bankrupt in '92, Muller and Richard Schwinn bought the Paramount factory and continued operating under the Waterford name in 1993.
Thus the Paramount history can be thought of in three phases:
First the early years from 1938 through 1958. Paramount burst on the scene in the late 30’s and enjoyed phenomenal sales, only to be nearly snuffed out by World War II. After the war, interest in racing and fine bicycles waned until the late 50’s.
Second came the so-called Classic Era from 1958 to 1979. This is the period when Paramount dominated the US pro bike scene and inspired many a racer and builder.
Finally came the Waterford Paramount Era, led by Marc Muller. The Paramount became the cornerstone for Waterford Precision Cycles which continues to build highly regarded custom frames and complete bicycles from its factory in Wisconsin.
The 1972 all Chrome example with Nervex Pro Lugset and Prugnat BB shell that I have acquired is mostly original with a complete and original Campy Nouvo Record groupset, Record LF hubs with Fiamme rims, Cinelli Giro D'Italie bars and old logo stem. It has a newer Brooks Professional saddle on the original seat post, Vittoria Rally tubular tires and Gipiemme track pedals.
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