Crosley!

CROSLEY
Minibilen som kom 30 år för tidigt!

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En gång för inte alltför länge sedan, så levde det en man, som hade en idé, som så här i efterhand, inte verkade alltför dum. Men år 1939 då verkade denna idé helknäpp. Hans idé var att om man gjorde en bil tillräckligt liten och enkel, och tillräckligt billig att äga, så skulle världens alla bilköpare köa vid hans försäljningslokal.
Nej, det var inte Henry Ford. Det var Powell Crosley, Jr., och det var inte första gången som han hade haft en idé som verkade helt idiotisk. Hans första produkt var radioapparater. På den tiden när en vanlig radio kostade $250 eller mer, så gjorde Crosley en radio som såldes för bara $25. När sedan kunderna började klaga på att dom inte kunde få in några radiostationer på de små apparaterna, så satt han upp en 500.000-watts radiosändare, så att de skulle kunna lyssna på något. Crosley's radioapparater vart en succé från den dagen, och "The Crosley Broadcasting System" vart ledaren bland förkrigstidens radiosystem.
Han gjorde det igen med Kylskåp. Han patenterade en modell som kallades "The Crosley Shelvador", och som hade hyllor på insidan av kylskåpsdörren. Det kan låta naturligt idag, men var revolutionerande på den tiden. Och andra tillverkare kunde inte göra detsamma förrän Crosley's patent upphörde på '50'talet.
Bilar var dock Powell Crosley's favorit produkt. Han hade byggt en som ung pojke, och hade designat och konstruerat en annan, bara för att bli ekonomiskt utslagen av en börskrasch. Trettio år senare, i Maj 1939, introducerades Crosley bilen för världen. Press introduktionen skedde på Indianapolis Speedway. Världens bilköpare stod inte precis och dreglade efter en 2-dörrars cabriolet som vägde under 1000 lbs., och såldes till ett pris av $250. Vid denna tid kunde man köpa en sex år gammal Plymouth i bra skick som kunde gå i många år, för mindre än denna summa, och betänk hur mycket stål man fick för pengarna.

Fast inga försäljnings rekord sattes det första modell året, såldes ändå tillräckligt många bilar för att övertyga Crosley att fortsätta med 1941års modell, med flera olika karosstyper.
Vad var det då man fick för sina ungefär $300? Ett chassi med 80 tum's hjulbas, halv elliptiska fjädrar med "beam axle" i framvagnen och kvarts elliptiska i bakvagnen. Kraften kom från en 2-cylindrig Waukesha luft-kyld motor, med fläkten som en del av svänghjulet. En koppling på 9-tum's diameter sammanbyggd med en 3-växlad transmission, med en inkapslad kardanstång till bakaxeln. Med tanke på enkelheten, så användes super mjuka motorfästen för att elliminera diverse leder i upphängningen. All denna enkla transport teknologi täcktes av en cabriolet kaross, som av dåtidens press kallades "rakish". Baksäte var extra tillbehör.
De huvudsakliga mekaniska förbättringarna inför 1941års modell inkluderar en universallänk på drivlinan, större motorfästen, och användandet av en "Bonderizing" process för att förbättra ytfinishen.
Den Tillotson enkel-förgasare som designats för motorn satt fortfarande uppepå cylindrarna, och den 4-gallon stora bensintanken delade utrymmet under huven tillsammans med både motor och batteri.
Mekaniska bromsar opererade på alla fyrar hjulen. De var av en ovanlig design, då bromsbeläggen låg lösa mellan bromsbacken och trumman. Materialet för bromsbelägget sträckte sig 350 grader runt trummans omkrets, och det udda systemet hade den fördelen att jobbet att byta bromsbelägg kunde göras enkelt genom att dra ut belägget från trumman och stoppa in ett nytt, utan att man behövde ta loss några komponenter.

Inför 1941, hade vagnparken expanderat till att inkludera, förutom de 2-och 4-passagerar cabrioleterna, en cabriolet sedan (den hade fönster för baksätes passagerarna), en stationsvagn, en "panel truck", en pickup, och två unika modeller som kallades "Parkway Delivery" och "Covered Wagon". Parkway delivery var en mini-panel-truck utan tak över framsätet, exponerande förare för elementen. Detta ansågs mycket elegant på '30'talet, särskilt om föraren var klädd i kostym som en chaufför. Den täckta vagnen var en cabriolet pickup truck med ett löstagbart baksäte. Med taket på plats kunde den användas som personbil, medans med allt borttaget så vart den en 1/4-tons pickup lastbil. Båda dessa två modeller har ett stort samlarvärde idag, då de flesta av förkrigstidens produktion bestod av cabriolet, coupé och sedan modeller.
En fördel med Crosley's design var att bilen var tillräckligt smal med sina 48-tum, för att kunna köras in genom standard affärs dörrar. På detta sätt kunde bilen säljas av samma återförsäljare som redan sålde Crosley's radioapparater och kylskåp, med lite eller inga ombyggnader av affärslokalerna. Den var även tillräckligt liten för att köras in på lagret för service och reparation.
Författaren av den amerikanska texten, kommer ihåg när han såg alla bilmodellerna visas upp på vitvaru avdelningen hos Macy's i New York, någon gång i slutet av 1940. Under samma år vart han inbjuden till New York Automobile Show i Grand Central Palace, där han med svagt minne mellan Studebakers och Divco trucks, kommer ihåg att han fann Crosley's monter. Där visades Cannonball Baker, levande, i egen hög person, berättande om sitt rekord satt med en Crosley Covered Wagon. Olikt hans tidigare cross-country tävlingar, gick detta rekord ut på att köra så långt som möjligt med minsta möjliga bensinförbrukning. Baker körde västerut från fabriken i Cinncinnati till Los Angeles och sedan tillbaka via New Orleans, Jacksonville och New York. Han körde 6517 miles, med ett medeltal av över 50 miles per gallon. Powell Crosley, var är vi nu?

(Översättningsarbetet fortsätter långsamt): Prices for the expanded 1941 line ranged from the 950 lb. 2-passenger convertible at $315 f.o.b. all the way up to the 4-place station wagon, tipping the scales at 1160 lbs. and costing $470. This was the year that a Cadillac Fleetwood cost $2195, and a Lincoln Continental convertible cost $2700.
A car like the original Crosley would seem to be a good thing for use in this day of soaring fuel prices, but unfortunately the Federally mandated safety and emission rules would bring the weight and complexity level up too high.
Instrumentation on the prewar models included an ammeter and oil pressure gauge, flanking a speedometer that read all the way up to 60 mph. A glove compartment just large enough for a pair of gloves was set into the right side of the dash, while above the steering column was the crank for the manual windshield wiper. Windows slid open for signalling and ventilation, while a standard summertime modification among Crosley owners was to remove the side glass entirely.
Less than 6000 of the prewar models were buildt, and any of them would be a real treasure today. Not only are they a unique example of American automobile making, they're small enough to be restored in the comfort of one's livingroom.

World War II found the Crosley factory in Cinncinnati turning out military equipment, and Powell Crosley thinking of the improvements he would make in the postwar models. Gasoline rationing during the war had suddenly put Crosley ownership in a new light for many people. At 50 miles per gallon, even a 3-gallon "A" coupon went a long way. Crosley found one of the things he was looking for in the radically new 4-cyl. engine designed by Lloyd Taylor, of Taylor Engines in california. Taylor developed his engine under a Navy contract for a lightweight generating set for use on PT boats and for gun turrets on amphibious landing craft. The engine included such advanced features as an overhead camshaft, high compression and five main bearings. The most revolutionary feature, though, was the method of block construction. First of all, this was in unit with the cylinder head and detachable from the crankcase. Secondly, and more important, instead of beeing cast as all other engine blocks were and are, it was buildt up from an assembly of steel tubing and stampings. These parts were assembled in a jig, then copper brazed together at high temperatures, which also served to heat treat the cylinder walls and valve seats to bring them up to a high degree of hardness. Water jackets and passages were lined with a plastic material for anti-rust purposes, and all outside parts had some kind of stiffening ribs or fins cast into them for high rigidity. Machining operations consisted of trueing the bottom of the block where it meets the crankcase, boring the camshaft bearings and boring and honing of cylinder walls and cam follower guides. The block was bolted to the aluminium crankcase, with the hold-down bolts also serving as bolts for the main bearing caps.
The result of all this innovation was a 44-cu.in. engine that weighed only 59 lbs. without accessories. It put out 26 hp at 5200 rpm, and had a compression ratio of 7.5:1. The copper brazing process gave it its unusual name, COBRA.

Crosley tested one of the generator sets for a continous wide-open run of 1200 hours, or almost two months. The only problem that occurred was in the exhaust valves due partly to the 100-octane unleaded aviation fuel it was running on. Carburetor was by Tillotson again, and still without an accelerator pump.
The postwar chassis into which this engine was dropped was essentially the same as the prewar chassis. On the chassis sat a "modern" envelope type body, which caused the car to grow 28 inches in length and 2 inches in width, even though the wheelbase and track were the same as before. The light weight of the engine kept the total weight below 1000 lbs., but just barely.
The transmission was the same three-speed as before, without benefit of silent-cut gears or synchromesh. Shifting this type of transmission quietly is an art, and was usually quickly learned by Crosley owners. Output from the transmission traveled down through the torque tube to the differential, where it drowe the rear wheels through a set of 5.17:1 gears. The final drive ratio combined with the 4.50x12 tires to require the engine to turn 1000 rpm for every 12 mph in high gear. Peak horsepower came in at just about 65 mph., at which point the engine run out of breath. This gearing also explained why all Crosleys sounded trashed, even when new.

Shortages of materials and strikes made new car production a shaky thing at best in the months right after the end of the war, while at the same time a car hungry public was ready to buy anything with four wheels and an engine. Crosley leapt into the gap, and even though his suppliers couldn't provide nameplates for the first cars off the line, he had the name painted in red on the front and rear bumpers, 3-ins. high, and shipped the cars off to the dealers. Any color you wanted was available, so long as you wanted grey with red seats and wheels. Later, a convertible was added to the line. This was a European-style body, in which the sides and doors, including all glass, remained the same as in the sedan. Three removable bows supported the top fabric, which was simply snapped on at the rear, stretched over the bows and snapped on at the windshield. If the car was used open for any length of time, the top fabric would shrink slightly, and it became a considerable job to put the top up.
Instrumentation was contained in two circular dials in front of the driver, and included a 70-mph speedometer and all gauges. The starter button protruded from the dash above the ignition key on the driver's left, and on the far right, past the huge oval radio speaker grille, was a glove compartment large enough to hold two pairs of gloves. Rubber mats covered the floor, imitation leather covered the seats and nothing covered the inside of the doors. A long spindly gear lever came up from the top of the transmission, and the hand brake was a ring protruding through the floor in front of the driver's seat.
In 1949, a station wagon, a pickup truck, and a sports model called the HotShot were added to the line. The HotShot was the first real postwar sports car in America, and it lived up to its name by winning the first Sebring 12-hour race on index of performance. The winning car was absolutely stock, the same thing you could get for under $1000 at your local Crosley dealership, and it provided a little boost in sales. The HotShot had a dropped frame for a lower center of gravity, coil springs on the rear wheels for better handling, and genuine disc brakes on all four wheels, something no other American cad until the mid '60's. By 1949, certain deficiencies had shown up in the COBRA engine (automotive service put different strains on it than the generators it was originally designed for) and Crosley replaced it with a cast-iron block called the CIBA. In all other aspects the engine was almost the same if a little quieter. The HotShot had the CIBA engine, the 3-speed crash gearbox and removable doors and windscreen. In the interests of high performance, an accelerator pump had been added to the carbureator. A more deluxe version called the Super Sports was introduced in 1950, featuring real doors that opened on hinges, and a top that folded down instead of having to be dismantled and stowed. In many respects, the HotShot and the Super Sports were similar to the original "Bug-eye" Austin Healy Sprites. They were minimal sports cars that provided a lot of fun for little money.

Crosley was not having so much luck with the rest of the line, even though roll-up windows were now available, along with cloth upholstery on the sedans and wagons, and a more modern front end and dashboard. Standard-sized cars were easy to get by the early '50's, and Crosley couldn't keep his prices low enough to compete. Production dwindled in 1951 to only 300 cars per month, and by 1952 Crosley sold out the automotive plant to General Tire and Rubber, who had no interest in making automobiles. The sale of the stock brought $68.000, and ended Crosley's dream of becoming another Henry Ford.
Crosleys had a habit of wearing out fast, and beeing "disposable", in that they were thrown away rather than repaired. A good Crosley today is a rare thing indeed, although parts are not too terribly hard to get. Station wagons from 1948-50 seem to be the most commonly available. HotShots and Super Sports models would probably be the most desirable, as they were never anything more than fun cars and acn still be that today. Look for a 1950 model, because Crosley succumbed to owners complaints about squealing brakes and dropped the disc brakes in favor of 9-in. hydraulic drums in 1951.
Any of the prewar models would be a find. They all survived the scrap metal drives of World War II because their fuel economy made them so desirable, but how many survived the Korean War is an unknown quantity. A 1941 Parkway Delivery in mint condition would probably be worth whatever (within reason) anyone would want for it. The author's favorite postwar model would be a 1950 convertible. It had the distinct Crosley look, could carry four people, and the soft top kept it a lot quieter.
The engines were used for many years after the demise of the company as motors for refrigeration units on big semi-trucks, so there is a more common availability of parts than a 14 year out-of-production date would normally indicate. Thre is also an active owner's club, furnishing information on hard-to-find parts and accessories, as well as restoration information. With costs rising everywhere, it's just possible that the Crosley, with its fuel economy and efficient size, may become the special interest car to have in the future.

Fakta lånade från Petersen's Special Interest American Cars 1930-1960. Isbn 0-8227-0116-2

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NÅGRA LÄNKAR FÖR CROSLEY ENTHUSIASTEN:

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TITTA I FOTO ALBUMET
Klicka på tumnagelbilderna för att se bilden i full storlek!


Super Sports

Super Sports

'50 FarmOroad

'49 Panel Delivery

'49 Panel Delivery

'48 Station Wagon

'52 Super Sports

'51 Wagon

'47 Pickup

'47 Pickup

'47 Station Wagon

'51 Station Wagon

'52 Sedan

Many Roadsters

'51 Super Sports

Custom Super Sports

'37 Crosley Prototype

'37 Crosley Prototype

'42 Liberty Sedan

'42 Liberty Sedan

Crosley Tractor

TUG

Crosley Devin

Custom Antique

Super Sports

'52 Super Sports

'47 Pickup

Hot Shot

Super Sports

'47 Pickup

'47 Pickup

Crosley block 46/49

'50 Hot Shot

'39 Crosley

Crofton Brawny Bug

Prewar in van

FarmOroad

Hot Shot w. Gorilla

FarmOroad

Row of 46/48:s

Six FarmOroads

'51-52 Wagon

'51-52 Wagon

'49-50 Sedan

'49-50 Pickups

'49-50 Conv. Sedan

'49-50 Conv. Sedan

'50 Flatbed Pickup

Indian w. C.engine

CC 'Shorty'

Orchard Sprayer

'47 Street Rod

'47 Street Rod

Custom Hot Shot

'49 Darin Crosley

Midget Racer

Crosley Junk

'47 Pickup
Fler Crosley Farm-o-Rod bilder
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Denna sida uppdaterades senast 1998-03-10

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© Fakta från Petersen's Special Interest American Cars 1930-1960. Isbn 0-8227-0116-2
© (Layout) IT-Consultant Sverker Nylén, Hinsnoret 42, S-79193 Falun, Sweden.
© (Bilder) Crosley Automobile Club, 200 Ridge Rd. E., Williamson, NY 14589, USA. & Others.





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