If there ever there was a better name for a sports car than Hotshot, I can't imagine what it would be. The Hotshot was the two-seat sports Crosley, a tiny car made by a company that at one time also sold radios and household appliances. Maybe that's why the little sedan looks a bit like a toaster with wheels.
There were several Crosley models, including a two-door sedan, station wagon and the bug-eyed little roadster that looked a lot like the precursor to an Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite.
Powel Crosley, Jr. was an inventor who introduced the first mass-market radio in 1921, radios available to the masses, and that was a boon to communication. He also invented the "Shelvador" refrigerator that could store food in the door.
In 1937, Crosley wanted to build a small, economical car that would provide transportation for the masses based on a plan similar to that used for his Crosley radio.
The first experimental car was 80 inches long and had a very narrow rear track. It would sell for $325 for a coupe and $350 for a convertible. Crosley's plan was to sell the car through department and appliance stores, and consequently he decreed that the cars be no wider than 48 inches so they could fit through the doors of retail stores.
In 1944, Crosley Radio and Crosley Corporation separated so the corporation could concentrate on building cars. They were tiny, even for their day.
The complete engine had a displacement of 44 cubic inches, weighed 136 pounds and delivered 26 horsepower.
The Hotshot won the Index of Performance at the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance sports car race in 1950.
I have a soft spot for Crosleys. My dad wanted a sports car but couldn't afford an MG or a Jaguar, so a Hotshot was the next best thing. I learned to drive it when I was 11 or 12 years old, and I constantly drove up and down the driveway. Sometimes I got to venture out around the block of our undeveloped suburban neighborhood.
The Hotshot didn't have any doors and no creature comforts worth mentioning. It did have a rudimentary top that was so flimsy it was best left at home.
All of those feelings about the Hotshot came flooding back this week at the Mecum auto auction at Bartle Hall. The auction began Thursday and ends today.
As I strolled through the hundreds of cars waiting to cross the block on Thursday I spotted a flawless red 1950 Hotshot. Hotshots were simple and somewhat crude, but this car was restored to perfection. The seats and the rest of the interior were much nicer than the original.
Memory after memory came flooding back the longer I stared. The endless trips up and down the driveway seemed as fresh as yesterday.
Hotshots were simple and somewhat crude, but this car was restored to perfection. The seats and the rest of the interior were much nicer than the original. Auction prices for a Crosley Hotshot have varied from $6,000 to a remarkable $37,800 for chassis 00001. This car sold for $20,000.
The longer I stared the more it seemed as if the endless trips up and down the driveway were as fresh as yesterday.
(Photos are posted in our archives.)