There are many great vintage razors out there, and a lot of them were made by Gillette. The Executive, Fat Boy, New, Slim, Tech, and Tuckaway can be found in the collections of double edge safety razor collectors everywhere. One of the most prolific and well-rounded razors made by Gillette is the Super Speed. It is my daily shaver, and has a special place in my heart as well as my medicine cabinet — the one I own is as old as I am.
The Gillette Super Speed model was made from 1947 to 1986. There are quite a few variants, mostly around the finish (color) of the razor. There are also some differences to the pattern and shape of the tip depending on the model year. Some model years are made out of different material, but all models are metal.
The Super Speed is a one-piece razor, with a twist to open (TTO) mechanism that reminds me of the Space Shuttle bay doors. Twist the tip counter-clockwise and the doors open. Clockwise turns close the doors.
The Super Speed is 3.5″ long and weighs a scant 1.4 ounces. This makes it the second lightest razor in my collection, a touch heavier than the Lord L6 razor but much lighter than my Edwin Jagger DE86BL and Cadet TP-26.
A heavier razor can aid in getting a closer shave. Good technique does not require any pressure (and depending on the weight and aggressiveness of the razor, sometimes anti-pressure), and the weight of the razor does most of the work.
While the Super Speed is not particularly heavy, it is regarded as one of the more aggressive double edge razors ever made. This means that there is more of the blade exposed between the safety bar and the top cover. The aggressiveness and the light weight makes for an interesting combo. In short the Super Speed is more forgiving of a momentary lapse of technique that would be paid for in blood by a heavier razor like the Cadet TP-26.
I really like shaving with the Super Speed, but in order to get a close shave I have to do two and a half passes. I shave my face and throat with the grain twice, and then against the grain on my throat once. In comparison, I can get the closeness with one pass of the TP-26 as I do with two passes of the Super Speed.
On the other hand, I almost never nick or cut myself with the Super Speed, and any mistakes on my part are usually healed up after a spritz of witch hazel or a quick pass of an alum block.
One of the other things I really like about my Gillette Super Speed is that it was made in the same quarter and year as I was born. Many Gillette razors have date codes that can help you acquire a razor made at about the same time you were
Super Speed razors are plentiful enough that you can find them quite easily — and inexpensively. They start at $10 and go up from there depending on condition and rarity. If you’re looking for a particular production code it can take awhile, so be ready to jump on one when you see it. It took me three months for me to find mine.