Thread Number: 75197  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Expert Poll: best classic washer ever?
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Post# 990235   4/10/2018 at 18:11 by Spin-Doctor (Maryland)        

I know this must have been discussed here ad nauseam and apologize for that. But I'm just getting really drawn in by the looks and apparent performance of many of these classic washers I've been seeing on some of these threads. It seems there are certain washers that appear to be better respected than others. The Maytag appears to hold the crown for ultimate durability and fine workmanship. And of the pictures I've seen so far, the 60's and 70's Maytags just look beautiful. True pieces of industrial engineering art.

But I hear others mentioned like Norge, GE etc, but not sure how pretty they may be too (of that 60's 70's era). Is there a thread or certain posts that really gets into all this I can look at? I'd love to learn lot more. I feel I might be on the market for a classic washer and dryer set eventually, but want to educate myself better first.

In the meantime, here's a poll I'd like to post just to get opinions:

1. Which 60's-80's washer had the best overall performance? I've read the diff between BD and DD and I think I already get that part. I just mean overall washing and spinning performance.

2. Which one is the most durable?

3. Which one is the most beautiful? Or, if you prefer, which one is the most interesting or cool?

4. Which one is has the best combination of overall attributes? Like the crème de la crème?

Post# 990238 , Reply# 1   4/10/2018 at 19:38 by glomain (tuscarawas cnty. (eastern ohio))        

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cant beat a GM made Frigidaire,like the 1-18s

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Post# 990240 , Reply# 2   4/10/2018 at 20:04 by peteski50 (New York)        
Favorite Washer!

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The 1/18 is probably one of my most favorite - their was good and bad - pros and cons to all! I Loved the belt drive whirlpools / kenmores Maytags and others this can be a good thread to continue with all the pros and cons of the vintage era!

Post# 990251 , Reply# 3   4/10/2018 at 23:07 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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Well, even the lowest quality vintage washer is better than the trash built today.
Maytag was probably the most durable.
Frigidaire Thumpers washed best.
Whirlpool had great design and some good and bad washers.
Norge and Speed Queen are outside my knowledge.
GE Filterflos rinsed out dog hair enormously better than anything else.

Post# 990253 , Reply# 4   4/10/2018 at 23:47 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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For more bells and whistles than you would likely ever need, the Lady Kenmore series from Sears probably tops the list of washers from the '60s - '80s.  These Whirlpool-sourced machines were both reliable and refined in their dependability and quiet operation.


Maytags were built like tanks and the mechanics are simple.  They run forever and are as no-nonsense as you'll find with regard to ease of use and lack of superfluous bling and features.  The top of the line series 806 machines are prized by many.  The entirely push-button controlled 906 series are so rare they're not worth pursuing, and they generally don't allow any user interference to tweak a particular cycle to one's liking or preference.


I've seen Frigidaire thumpers in action and was very impressed.  The design and engineering of the (then) largest automobile manufacturer in the world really shows.


And, following the if-you-can't-say-anything-good rule, I'll reserve commenting on Norge/Ward's washers due to living with Post-Traumatic Signature Disorder since 1967.

Post# 990265 , Reply# 5   4/11/2018 at 02:40 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Electrolux FL500

Post# 990272 , Reply# 6   4/11/2018 at 06:29 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
All the way around

Whirlpool or Kenmore from about 1955 thru about 70

Post# 990274 , Reply# 7   4/11/2018 at 06:45 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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I can't just pick one, alas....    I love how well the older Frigidaire Unimatic washes and spins; the washing action of the ABC-O-Matic is just too much fun to watch; the Blackstone agitiation is pretty fun to watch also; but I keep using one of my older Whirlpool-built machines (including not just Kenmores, but the Inglis as well here) as the 'daily drivers'.  

Post# 990278 , Reply# 8   4/11/2018 at 07:29 by peteski50 (New York)        
Whirlpool / Kenmore!

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Yes Hans - I loved those Whirlpools with the console lights - I have friends that had the 58 Imperial time line machine and that was a real awesome looking washer!
I still remember watching that machine wash and it is a Unforgettable Happy memory :)

Post# 990282 , Reply# 9   4/11/2018 at 08:07 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Has anyone fond memories of Westinghouse?

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We have (thanks to several fellow members!) a working slant front dryer and a PANK! one waiting on repairs. I must say, the ideas were good but the execution, hmm, well, hmm.

Post# 990286 , Reply# 10   4/11/2018 at 08:27 by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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Hmmm. There are many that I like. So I'll start with Maytag (surprise!), General Electric Filter-Flo (grew up with one), Frigidaire 1-18 (My parents first automatic was a Frigidaire Unimatic back in '54) and Whirlpool/Kenmore (my folks have had both in their secondary home, a '63 Whirlpool, and currently a '83 Kenmore 80 series in grey).

Post# 990290 , Reply# 11   4/11/2018 at 09:16 by Losangeles (Muscle Shoals, AL 35661)        
Expert Poll: best classic

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So many interesting responses to this thread. A great read. For me I have to say first up would the early Frigidaire Thumpers. I have so many fond memories of standing on a stool to watch it wash. I can still smell the Tide. And now a lifelong dream is about to come true. I will be picking up two Frigidaire's tomorrow from my buddy Dwight. I am like a kid on Christmas Eve. Next would be the Kenmore and Whirlpool line from the mid 50's thru the 60's and 70's. Such class and styling, functionality, dependable and a good spread of bells and whistles depending on the model chosen. Last would be the Maytag. As said before by other members, they were built like a tank, dependable forever straight forward no fooling excellent washers. I have a model A282 myself and use it often. My mother was strictly a Kenmore woman except for a very brief stint with a Westinghouse slant front washer/dryer combo. If she could have had access to a shot gun, it's life would have been shortened considerably. Wish I had it now. It was Pink.

Post# 990296 , Reply# 12   4/11/2018 at 09:48 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        

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1-18, there's nothing else conceptually like a FD, it's just so different, and what a capacity!

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Post# 990298 , Reply# 13   4/11/2018 at 10:00 by americana4 (East Greenwich RI)        

If reliability is a factor, have to weigh in with my GE filter flo, bought new in '82.
I debated long & hard spending more for a Maytag, but after 3 children, 4 moves and 36 years with absolutely no repairs ever, the GE is still my daily driver. Wish I'd bought 2.

Post# 990308 , Reply# 14   4/11/2018 at 12:05 by gregingotham (New York)        
Frigidaire all the way!

From unimatic to 1-18 the action, the panel designs, all were the best in my opinion. Too bad jet action can't be revived in new machines today.

Post# 990314 , Reply# 15   4/11/2018 at 13:04 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        

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Back in the 70's-80's when I was a kid I helped an old German guy that owned an appliance repair biz and went on calls with him. The Maytags hardly ever had issues or Whirlpools. The Maytags were the easiest to change belts but the Speed Queens the worst with those rocking solenoids I remember.

Post# 990332 , Reply# 16   4/11/2018 at 16:17 by whirlykenmore78 (Prior Lake MN (GMT-0700 CDT.))        

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DD or BD are the best in my book. Maytag would be my 2nd.

Post# 990348 , Reply# 17   4/11/2018 at 19:15 by mrsalvo (New Braunfels Texas)        

I've also been wracking my brain on this one.
For 1, 2, & 4 workmanship and dependability I would have to nominate 60's - 90's Maytag. I had an aunt that had one that lasted over 30 years with little or no repair, for a family of 4. There's no telling how many loads she washed day in and day out. They were so simple in design that they were beautiful. The only drawback I could think of was their capacity, like my 2015 T/L SQ, 2 queen sheets, pillowcases, and a pair of PJ's is a full load! (When I was growing up I thought Maytags were the most boring washers ever. It wasn't until I was older that I appreciated the well built design.)

For #3, any of the lighted consoles Kenmores, with all the different agitators. GM Frigidaire's were down right cool, Westinghouse indexing tubs too, & of course, The Wards Signature / Norge's burpalators were most entertaining (and loud).

All time best laundry detergent: Tide XK, though I had quite a few favorites. Still miss Salvo, to this day.


Post# 990350 , Reply# 18   4/11/2018 at 19:33 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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Well, I just finished a load in my 1984 LA511 and dried in the DE410 Maytags. In all those years one $28 pulley for the washer and dryer has never been touched. So this is my vote as mine are the same as the center dial models but with a newer, lovely wood grain back guard. The old slogan was true for mine after nearly 35 years, "Maytags last longer with fewer repairs than any other brand, thats why we are known as the dependability people". Unfortunately, not today.

Post# 990352 , Reply# 19   4/11/2018 at 20:26 by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        
Knock on Any Norge

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Have to agree on the durability of Maytags, although agitation not very exciting. Sears/Whirlpool fun and pretty machines and totally agree with Panthera about GE and excellent lint removal. And of course Frigidaire just because they were so unique!

However, despite those on this site with Post-Traumatic Signature Disorder (that’s hilarious to me since I run the County’s Behavioral Health Department!), Norge/Wards are decent contenders. Although not the quietest machines, they really do the job. Large capacity, burp-up filter and vigorous agitation give other brands a run for the money. And they had a certain beauty about them as well, especially as you go to the top of the line...

Post# 990400 , Reply# 20   4/12/2018 at 06:25 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        

Are just a washer I absolutely jinx, I have owned 5 , one new in 84 and the rest various ages from 806, on up, NEVER have I owned one that didn't just torment the hell out of me, all of them either slung oil all over everything, or walked all over the place, I have NEVER used one yet that would wash more than 2 loads without getting out of balance, the last one I tried tore a 1 foot round hole in the vinyl floor when it got out of balance!! I have TRIED to like them, but I just cant..LOL

Post# 990406 , Reply# 21   4/12/2018 at 08:25 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Hans Craig,

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I have the same experience with KA dishwashers. Except for a KA 15, every single one we've ever had has been an unmitigated disaster.

Some brands just like you, some just hate you.

GE Potscrubbers and Maytag washers just seem to like us.

Post# 990409 , Reply# 22   4/12/2018 at 08:41 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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Just a good Whirlpool w/ the slant console...

-- Dave

Post# 990430 , Reply# 23   4/12/2018 at 13:01 by akronman (Akron/Cleveland Ohio)        

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Best overall performance: Frigidaire 1-18 (wash, rinse, extract, lint filtering).
Most durable: Maytag, Kenmore(except for dispensers and bells/whistles), GE.
Most Interesting or COOL? Control Top Frigidaire from late 50's
Creme de la Creme? Top of the Line 1-18 or Lady Kenmore

Post# 990438 , Reply# 24   4/12/2018 at 14:19 by Jetcone (Schenectady-Calrods,Monitor Tops,Toroid Transformers)        
Well I am at 6’s and 7’s on that topic

jetcone's profile picture
I find my favorites based on style and washability, but the washing is the sticking point. Some machines are great on jeans, others on wool, others on cotton tees.

Kelvinators alwasy travel well!

But you can only find that red in a Frigidaire!

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Post# 990460 , Reply# 25   4/12/2018 at 17:45 by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

1. Which 60's-80's washer had the best overall performance? I've read the diff between BD and DD and I think I already get that part. I just mean overall washing and spinning performance.


As much as I am pro Maytag, BD machines are great washers, and the 1-18s in my mind (which I only have YouTube experience and reading members posts on here over the last 10+ years) are thee best. 

2. Which one is the most durable?



3. Which one is the most beautiful? Or, if you prefer, which one is the most interesting or cool?


Each brand has a beautiful machine, and some of them become design icons on the 60s and 70s, like the centre dial Maytags. 

4. Which one is has the best combination of overall attributes? Like the crème de la crème?



Post# 990511 , Reply# 26   4/13/2018 at 06:03 by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

Can't let you Americans have it all your own way...

One personal favourite: the AEG Lavamat Regina/Deluxe. The basic design was so good, it was in production for something like 25 years. So stylish, especially with the backlit control panels.

Here's one in Denmark that had been in daily use for 42 years when this photo was taken:

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Post# 990512 , Reply# 27   4/13/2018 at 06:09 by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

Always liked the classic Miele family too, especially the last-of-the-line 421S. Credit to AW member 'foraloysius' for this scan.

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Post# 990514 , Reply# 28   4/13/2018 at 06:12 by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

The Bendix 7147 is rather nice too. The styling is a nod back in the direction of the old Bendix bolt-down machines that were many middle-class families' first automatics in the early 1950s, but still looks modern even 40 years or so after its introduction. Whopping big brushless motors too, so very quiet and understressed.

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Post# 990516 , Reply# 29   4/13/2018 at 06:17 by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

A lot of childhood memories of the Hoover Electron/Logic family too... these machines seemed to be ubiquitous for a time. The matching dryers were based on the Maytag Halo of Heat design, right down to the hard-to-access lint filter on the back of the drum!

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Post# 990519 , Reply# 30   4/13/2018 at 06:34 by Jetcone (Schenectady-Calrods,Monitor Tops,Toroid Transformers)        
Ooo that Miele

jetcone's profile picture
I could own and love that machine in 2.2 seconds !!!!

And those Lavamats are just super!!

Post# 990612 , Reply# 31   4/13/2018 at 18:23 by Spin-Doctor (Maryland)        

Thank you for the replies everyone! Very informative. I'm just getting started learning about these marvelous machines, it really helps to hear the opinions of aficionados to help sort out who's who in the zoo.

So it seems clear that the consensus amongst most enthusiasts, at least in North America, is that the GM Frigidaire 1-18's are overall the best and most impressive classic washer. Funny thing is that I don't recall ever seeing one of these units during my childhood. And I'm certainly old enough to have seen one.

Although I have to say, in my personal opinion, at least for the 1970's 1-18s I've seen, they're definitely not the most elegant looking washers. They are cool and quirky looking in an old-school GM looking way. But they do not have the clean beauty and elegant lines that some of the others have. Still, functionality and superior performance has a beauty all its own. Another thing that might concern me is that the pumping agitation cycles seems to be quite loud (from what I've seen on youtube videos). My washing machine is upstairs near the bedroom. Are these things "hammer time" washers?

Another question I have about 1-18s: I see they were made back in the early 1960's too. The styling looks a lot better on a 1963 I saw. I really like the styling of 60's cars and it seems the appliances of the times took their cues from automobiles. Any thoughts on the best looking 1-18 with the most classic/clean styling?

And what about the Lady Kenmores? I have seen a resto of a late 50's model on a website, which really is a pretty machine. What is the prettiest Lady Kenmore in that sleek push buttonish/chrome knob 1960's look? I love the look of cars and women's styles from that era, so I think I'm narrowing down my favorite appliances to that same same era. People seem to rank these washers in the top three. Which one from the 60's-70's is the prettiest and also has great features and performance?

So far I really like the look of those push button and chrome knob Maytags. Really clean and elegant and with superior quality. I really like the design of the lighted panel and the clean, uncluttered design. Classic, clean Americana. VERY nice.

But then these 1-18's are intriguing because of their stellar reputation. Plus although the later models are somewhat visually challenged, maybe the earlier 60's models have looks and performance? Need to learn more about those models.

Thanks again for the great responses!

Post# 990614 , Reply# 32   4/13/2018 at 18:31 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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The early 1960s and 1950s Frigidaires weren't 1-18s, only the later extra large capacity models from the 1970s with the perforated tub. The earlier solid tub models were based on the Unimatic design from 1949-1958 and subsequently the Multimatic mechanism and then in the mid to late 1960s the Rollermatic mechanism which was modified into being belt operated to also be used in the 1-18s.

Post# 990616 , Reply# 33   4/13/2018 at 18:35 by joelippard (Hickory, NC)        

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As the owner of two of them in that age range I'm going to say the 1-18.  I just wish they had made one with the Rapidry 1010 rpm like in the solid tub models.

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Post# 990618 , Reply# 34   4/13/2018 at 19:08 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Any Frigidaire

panthera's profile picture

Thumper is going to wash better than any other machine, hands down.


Post# 990645 , Reply# 35   4/13/2018 at 22:02 by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        
Hate to Disagree With the Experts...

washerlover's profile picture
Sorry to say, but in my humble opinion, Norge/Wards has the best washing capability of all. You have to be careful about what types of clothes you put in them and the proper wash/spin speeds, but they are absolutely the best in clothes cleaning. Sorry to disagree with one of my most respected icons, Panthera, but Norge/Wards is the “hands down” winner in washability. Whirlpool with its “Double Duty Super Surgilator” comes in second...

Post# 990647 , Reply# 36   4/13/2018 at 22:09 by peteski50 (New York)        
Best Washer!

peteski50's profile picture
I will always vote Frigidaire weather it was smaller solid tub or 1/18 - the wash action was more through and yet more gentle without a trashing Agitator - I do still like others but to me the thumper will always win! WCI made the very worst decisions to drop a great design!

Post# 990651 , Reply# 37   4/13/2018 at 22:23 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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How about what classic washer you still have since new out of the box and still works like new with no repairs? One $28 pulley on my 35 year old Maytag in all these years. I will never get rid of these beauties.

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