Sunday, March 30, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
In 1939 he had a crazy idea. As most of the car making companies were concentrating on larger, family sized automobiles, Crosley, with the help of his engineer brother, decided to turn out a small, subcompact vehicle. What they made was the Crosley, a car that weighed under 1000 pounds and cost $250 new. Though initially it was just a two-door convertible by 1941 other trims became available.
During World War II with all of the gasoline rationing that was going on, the Crosley was extremely popular because it was not only cheap to buy but cheap to operate. The car got in excess of 50 miles per gallon. That's way more than the expensive, over advertised hybrids of today.
Like other firms, during the war Crosley shut down the car lines to make equipment for the military but in 1946 his Marion, IN plant became the first to start rolling consumer vehicles onto showroom floors. Other firsts followed. Crosley was the first to coin the term "sport utility" which was introduced in 1948. They manufactured the first mass-market single overhead cam engine. They also had the first four wheel caliper style disc brakes.
In 1949 they introduced the country's very first sports car, the Hotshot. Not what we would consider a sports car by today's standards, the Hotshot was light weight but still under powered with a four cylinder 44 cubic inch engine that pumped out all of 27 horse power. Still, that was enough, along with some good luck, for the car to win the very first six hour race at Sebring in 1950 as well as the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix.
Though innovative, the engines had a lot of problems. Despite being small their single cam overhead design was in almost constant need of attention. This greatly hindered what could have been a very handsome sales run for Crosley. In 1952, after seeing a high four years earlier of nearly 25,000 sales, just a little over 1500 cars were sold. My early July Crosley pulled the plug.
The Hotshot seen here is a 1951Concours quality VC Convertible.