1951 Crosley Deluxe Sedan
On loan from: Merrell Maris, Wauneta, NE
Original cost: $818.00 (In 1951: Average car cost, $1,500.00; average household income, $3,510.00; average home cost, $9,000.00; gallon of gas, 19 cents)
Number made: 1,077
Engine etc.: 26.5 hp; 44 cu. in.; 80 in. wheelbase; 1,363 lbs.
Powel Crosley Jr. built a crude small car at the turn of the century but then went on to a radio and refrigerator career. But cars remained his first love. In 1939 he offered a very small 80-inch wheelbase two-cylinder car in pursuit of an American “volkswagen”. It was constructed in Cincinnati, OH and sold for $325 – $350. It was just ten feet long and weighed less than half a ton. Sales for 1939 were 2,017.
The cars were sold through local hardware and appliance stores, a novel but shortsighted marketing scheme. The bare-bones car included a non-synchronized three-speed gearbox, sliding (not roll-down) door windows, and a hand-operated windshield wiper. By 1940, customers found Crosley dealers were better suited to repair refrigerators than cars. Sales in 1940 fell by more than three-fourths. Crosley Motors built around 5,000 cars by 1942 when the government stopped civilian production because of World War II.
After the war Crosley developed a 4-cylinder engine with a brazed copper and sheet steel block. It had five main bearings and had been successful in refrigerators and airplanes; it was less happy in a car. The copper-steel block was subject to electrolysis that caused holes in the cylinder bores. Crosley fixed this by offering a cast-iron engine called the CIBA, Cast-Iron Block Assembly.
Production totaled almost 5,000 for 1946, over 19,000 for 1947, and close to 29,000 in 1948. They built more station wagons than any other U. S. automaker in 1948. However, new postwar designs by the Big Three automakers and a reputation for engine problems caused sales to fall in 1949 to under 7,500.
Hoping to turn things around in 1950, Crosley offered a wagon, convertible, and sedan plus the doorless Hotshot and Super Sport. Crosleys cost $872 – $984 that year. Disc brakes were introduced in 1949-50, a first for an American automaker. Due to hasty development, the Crosley brakes deteriorated quickly and caused tremendous service headaches. Conventional drum brakes were brought back for 1951.
Crosley also offered a Jeep-like utility vehicle with a 63-inch wheelbase for $795 in 1950. It had accessories that allowed it to tow a hay wagon or dig ditches.
Unfortunately, buyers were now unmoved by anything Crosley did and the company was forced to abandon vehicles in 1952. General Tire and Rubber bought the company and disposed of the automobile operations – after Powel Crosley spent some $3 million trying to save them.
http://uniquecarsandparts.com/lost_marques_crosley.htm (Crosley history)