"There were two different Crosley cars."
- (Mountain Democrat and Placerville Times - Placerville. CA. Friday, February 13, 1987)
By BILL FRANSON
There were two different Crosley cars. The 1939-1942 car had a Waukesha two cylinder air cooled engine, and the 1946-1952 car had a four cylinder water cooled engine. Every Crosley had a wheelbase of 80 inches except the sports car with a longer chassis and the utility vehicle that was much shorter.
In the summer of 1939 Crosley announced its new 12 horsepower, two cylinder car, to be sold by appliance dealers along with Crosley's well known radios and refrigerators. In 1941 Crosley changed its sales policy and signed some franchised dealers. The 1939 Crosley came in several useful body styles: station wagon, convertible sedan (with seats for four), panel truck, and pickup truck. Prices of the 1939-1942 cars ran from $300 to $600. With a canvas top the pickup truck became the "Covered Wagon". And that was the type chosen for a long distance economy run in 1939. Famous race driver Cannon Ball Baker took the car from coast to coast and around a big loop in the middle west for 6500 miles, averaging 50 miles to the gallon of gas. Production was halted by the war and Crosley went into war work. Only about 5,000 1939-1942 Crosleys were built, and they are rare today.
The 1946-1952 Crosley is much more familiar to most of us. In 1946 Crosley announced a new model with a 26 horsepower four cylinder engine and modern slab-sided bodies. The engine was developed during the war as a small power plant for a wide variety of applications. It did not have the usual cast iron block, but was built up of steel parts brazed together. The engine was not very good as an automobile engine, and a cast iron block was put into production to replace the brazed assembly.
Body styles included an all-steel station wagon, convertible sedan, two door sedan, panel truck, and pickup truck. The high compression engine was designed to run on regular gasoline, and 50 miles to the gallon was claimed. Disc brakes were used in 1949 and 1950 but after some trouble with them Crosley went back to drum brakes in 1951.
In 1949 Crosley announced a sporty little roadster with smooth lines, bug-eye headlights, and no doors. A faster version with higher compression and doors followed in 1950.
Another car from the Crosley factory was the FarmOroad. an all-purpose utility car that could handle a wide variety of jobs on a farm or suburban estate. It could drag farm implements and so on, but Crosley's problem was that there already was a famous utility vehicle that could do all of those jobs, and more.
Crosley carried on until 1952. That was the last of a family of cars that might have done better at another time.