Banzai was a brand of skateboard
s available back in the mid-to-late '70s
(and possibly early '80s
). The company was based in southern California.
Who remembers the '70s? A quick show of hands... three four five...
Well cars, as you may recall, were rather large back thenour family car happened to be a huge yellow Dodge vanbut skateboards were rather wee.
The Banzai board was 24″ long, a mere 5½″ widewhy, that's .32 inches skinnier than a dollar bill is long!and was about as thick as a Tic Tac layed on it's side. With wheels attached it could easily roll under a skateboard of today without touching. The shape of the board recalled a shark. The front and back were tilted up a bit (in what I believe was the first instance of what is referred to as a double kicktail) allowing users to do rather basic tricks. Lest you forget what you were riding, the word BANZAI (written ala the CinemaScope 55 logo) was engraved in the middle of the board.
What made the Banzai so cool? Well, unlike other boards of its time, the Banzais were made not of wood, but entirely out of aluminium. They were thin, light weight, non-ferrousremember, this was back when we were drinking soda from cans that rusted, so an aluminium skateboard seemed a bit high tech. You could imagine that this would be the skateboard James Bond would own. Also, the word Banzai is a cool name; if it had been named the Nelson I think we all can agree it wouldn't have had quite the same image.
The Banzais came in at least seven colors:
- naked aluminum (snazzy!),
- anodized red.
- anodized gold,
- anodized forest green,
- anodized blue,
- anodized purple, and
- anodized black.
I had (and still have somewhere) the red version with matching transparent red wheels; a hand-me-down
from my brother. Luckily Banzai was spared the Harvest Gold
color scheme insanity of the 1970
Unfortunately, the board had what I called "the high-speed wobbles". That is, as soon as you started going at a pretty good clip downhill, the board would start to wobble back and forth on the trucks forcing you to counter-wobble. I don't care who you are; all coolness goes right out the window when you are counter-wobbling. Usually I'd have to either slow down using the brake or jump off. It brings to mind that X-1 scene from The Right Stuff although perhaps now I'm just being silly.
Notes: You can see a great picture of a Banzai at
A dollar bill is about 6.14 inches long by 2.61 inches wide/tall (and .0043 inches thick, if you're curious).
When I say they were made entirely from aluminum of course that's me, an aluminium layman, talking. I'm couldn't tell you if there were traces of cabrium 90 or anything else in there at the atomic level; throw me a bone, I was nine. Want a Banzai? You can sometimes find them on eBay ranging in price from $25 to $275. I have since heard that Banzai also made wood boards, but have never seen one or any pictures.
My apologies to Nelsons everywhere.