Don- My best friend bought a Newest at the same time I got my first Finest. It was explained to me that the Newest was more of a "racers" bike with steeper angles, shorter wheelbase, tighter clearances. But with the same component spec for the most part. At the time I thought it much like the Raleigh Pro VS the International or the Schwinn Paramount P13 VS P15 (I hope I got my models right, I'm no Schwinn fan so don't remember them as well).
I will also say that at the time I thought it a neat choice. I had no problem with the largely same package on two different rides. The marketing style was different back then. And remember that in the early 1970s the tire choices, that were common, were pretty far apart. Either 1 1/4" gum walls at 70psi or sew ups. It wasn't until about 1978 that mid performance (compared to sew ups), narrow, clinchers started to become available. So that the wheels would be the same between tow high end bikes before then is not surprising to me. Some of the same can be said for cranks and other parts. (This is where Shimano has really done a great job. Taking low cost parts and adding high end features, with out the material quality, making them sell for far more then before).
As to your wonder of the tubing's wall thickness I doubt that it was .8,.5,.8. I wasn't building yet then but was starting to pay attention to frame design and the weight seemed to be a tad heavier then the other more common 531 bikes (with similar component type). This and the perceived Fuji build style of heavier frames (see the S10-S VS Raleigh Super Course) makes me think that the Fuji walls were more likely 1,.7,1 or more. I don't remember that the Newest was any lighter then my Finest so I thought they had the same tubing spec.
Don, to pick a nit. Why do you think that eyelets suggest a very light weight tube spec (for it's time)? These days most of my customers would equate eyelets with touring and it's heavier needs.
Incidentally even though my Finest had a longer wheelbase and softer angles it was the faster bike between my friend and I...
> Message: 3
> Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 20:11:57 -0800
> From: donald gillies <email@example.com>
> Subject: [CR] 1971 Fuji Finest vs. Newest : Why Two Models?
> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Message-ID: <20090206041157.4529B677D@ug2.ece.ubc.ca>
> Content-Type: text/plain
> Other than a minor difference between a suede or smooth leather
> saddle, the only difference between the Fuji Finest and the Fuji
> Newest models seem to be :
> finest newest
> frame angles 73 x 73 74 x 74
> lugs short point long point
> crown O-shape sideview C-shaped sideview
> paint blue over chrome white over chrome
> tires no. 75 no. 90
> Was there a major difference in tubing gauge ?? I notice that both
> framesets have eyelets, which suggests 8/5/8 tubing. The parts lists
> and photos are otherwise IDENTICAL. Was this a strategy on Fuji's
> part, to sell 2 bikes with almost exactly the same parts, to get a
> better price on a volume parts order??
> - Don Gillies
> San Diego, CA, USA