Powered by a 44 cubic-inch engine offering 26.5 horsepower, the independently manufactured Crosley was something of an oddity against the massive iron Detroit was assembling on road to post-war prosperity. But the Crosley was a smart and efficient design. Available in a wide array of body styles, the most exciting was the two-seater Hot Shot.
With disc brakes and lightweight construction, the reliable single overhead cam cast-iron block allowed the charming door-less Hot Shot to zip a path straight to the enthusiast's heart, without goring their pocketbook.
This example still resides in the same town of the original owner and was treated to a driver's class restoration in the mid-2000s after more than twenty years of storage.
Powel Crosley, a manufacturer of radio's and refrigerators, began manufacturing automobiles in 1940. The Crosley cars were tiny, quirky and not very popular.
The 'Hot Shot' was America's first post-war sports car. With only 26.5 horsepower the car was not very fast, but handled well and offered an elemental wind-in-face experience typical of British MG's. Only 2,498 Hot Shots were built between 1948 and 1952. Even though production may have begun in 1948, they were listed as 1949 models. Also, the 2,498 Crosleys produced includes both the VC (Roadster) Hotshots and Supersports. Crosley left the car business after 1952.
Introduced in 1949, as a Super Hot Shot, the Crosley Hot Shot came with cut down sides without doors, or removable half doors. The Hot Shot was available at the low price of $849. With new styling that included integral fenders, smooth hood, turn indicators (on sedans and convertibles) and sealed-beam headlights in upright pods the 1949 was by far the best car produced by Crosley. An 80-inch wheelbase was found on convertible, station wagon, delivery and sedan models. On the new Hotshot roadster the wheelbase was updated to an 85-inch. The main variances between the previous model and the Hot Shot was the super side script, the folding top rather than assembled and the red trim around the cockpit. Before 9' hydraulic brakes were installed in June, current roadsters came with 4-wheel Goodyear – Hawley aircraft style disc brakes. This change was implemented due to the salt filled country roads that caused freeze up problems with the brakes.
While working on a U.S. Navy project during the war, Crosley used a block of brazed copper and sheet steel to develop the overhead cam four-cylinder. Eventually postwar cars were installed with these 60 lb engines. Displacing 44 cubic inches, this five-main-bearing engine developed 26.5 hp at 5400 rpm. This engine was popular during the war in powering everything from Mooney Mite airplanes to truck refrigerators. Subject to electrolysis that resulted in holes to developing in cylinders, the copper-steel block was updated to a cast-iron block designed and built by Crosley in 1949. Keeping the original dimensions, this engine added much more stability to the vehicle.
Unfortunately, Crosley's reputation for unstable engines affected sales in the future. The 1949 model was produced in only 7431 units, this drop from 19,000 units for the 1947 model and 29,000 of the 1948s.
By Jessica Donaldson
Winning the Index of Performance at the Sebring Twelve Hours, the Hotshot was sleek and speedy. Able to achieve 90 miles an hour, the semi-elliptical-spring front suspension and coil springs with rear quarter eliptics were impressive.