We often joked that we'd bought our first car at Macy's toy department. Weighing just 924 pounds, with a wheel base of 80 inches, the 1940 Crosley convertible coupe was small enough to look like a toy.
Husband Malcolm and I really did buy that car at Macy's, which was a Crosley dealer. Stores that handled other Crosley products, such as their radios and famous Shelvador refrigerators, also sold the cars. For us newlyweds, still feeling the Depression's pinch, the little Crosley's petite price - $375 - fit our budget well.
The Crosley was a novelty then, and on the ferry back to New Jersey, it attracted a curious crowd of fellow passengers. One burly truck driver squeezed into the driver's seat, and the poor little car sagged under his 240 pounds!
During the drive home on U.S. Highway 1, each big truck that passed nearly blew us off the road. But we made it safely, and the car soon became a popular curiosity in our small college town. All our friends wanted a ride in it - although one asked to be driven only on the back streets so she wouldn't be seen!
We lived in an apartment in the center of town and parked the Crosley on the street out front. Passing college boys would often pick up the car and put it on the sidewalk. When that happened, the manager would call to ask us to move our car back onto the street. One day after attending a lecture at the high school, we came out to find the little car blocking the door. Pranksters had carried it up the 20 steps, and we had to maneuver it back down in front of a captive audience that included my husband's boss.
The Crosley continued to attract attention wherever we went. In a parking lot in a nearby city, so many people crowded around the car that we had trouble getting to it to claim it. Despite all the attention, the car was a joy to park, as it fit the smallest of places. Frustrated drivers who thought they'd found a parking spot had to change their minds when they discovered our little Crosley, initially unseen, hiding there.
Our first big trip in the Crosley was to Canada to visit relatives. With its two-cylinder, air-cooled, 12-hp engine, the trip over the Pennsylvania mountains was a challenge, but we made it. The trip back was another story - the Crosley broke down in Buffalo and required a new engine. Luckily, we had relatives there with whom we could stay while the car was repaired.
We eventually made it home with no more problems. Later, we took a trip to New England, and the little Crosley behaved perfectly, getting 40 miles per gallon - just right for our thin pocketbooks.
By the time our tiny car had reached its second birthday, we were ready to graduate to a full-size model. We parted with the Crosley for the huge sum of $85 from a high school boy who was as delighted as we had been with the "toy" car. From that time on, we blended inconspicuously into traffic. Our fun days of driving a novelty were over, but what unforgettable years we'd had with our "Car of Tomorrow."
By Ruth Ferguson
Port Charlotte, Florida
=CROSLEY CAR OWNERS CLUB=