Crazy little Crosleys were America's first micro cars of the modern era. Powel Crosley was a successful industrialist who manufactured millions of radios and refrigerators and owned the Cinncinati Reds baseball team. When buyers complained that they couldn't pick up any stations on his low budget radios, Powel Crosely started his own high-powered broadcasting network. But Crosley wasn't satisfied - he wanted to produce basic, economical vehicles that anyone could afford.
The first Crosley car was introduced in 1939. It weighed less than a thousand pounds and cost just $250 when a Ford cost $850. Still the little bantam struggled to find a place in the market and ceased production during WWII, resuming just after.
With just under 25,000 little Crosleys sold, the car-starved postwar market gave the slab-sided cartoon beast its best sales year in 1948 but soon the Big Three manufacturers got new designs on the road. Though Crosleys got 50 miles per gallon, gas was cheap and no one cared. Americans flocked to buy Detroit's big, flashy new models and Crosley was doomed. He sent his workforce off for the 4th of July holiday in 1952 and closed the plant forever.
First mention of Sport Utility Vehicle
Mass-production of OHV engine
Four wheel disc brakes
First postwar sports car
Slab sided body (no separate fenders)
All-steel station wagon
Frank Lloyd Wright
General Omar Bradley
Pamela Harriman (bought #1, 1939)
Dwight David Eisenhower (CCOC Member 1,000)
Since 2007, the Smart Car has taken Crosley's place in the autoscape, the first microcar to make serious inroads into the U.S. market since Powel Crosley's little car that could.
Crosley cars: America's first micro car beat the Smart by 60 years