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Green Cars Of The Past: 1951 Crosley Wagon Page 2

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1951 Crosley Wagon [photo by Chequered Flag International]

1951 Crosley Wagon [photo by Chequered Flag International]

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I have to say, however, that this is a car that requires complete concentration, especially in urban traffic, compared to modern small cars with their automatic transmissions, power steering and disc brakes.

Was it entertaining?  You bet!

The little Crosley wagon is one of those cars that elicits smiles from the driver, passengers, and bystanders alike. And mastering the quirky controls produces a great feeling of accomplishment, once less concentration is needed to drive the car smoothly. 

By 1951, a Crosley wagon was becoming a rare car. Sales began to slip in 1949, and even after adding a Crosley Hotshot roadster and a Jeep-like vehicle called the Farm-O-Road in 1950, new products weren't able to stop the firm's decline. 

In 1952, just 1,522 Crosley vehicles were sold, and production ceased in early July. The factory was sold to General Tire & Rubber.

A plan to sell the Crosley auto division to Nash failed to materialize when Nash merged instead with Hudson in 1954. Crosley's clever little engine lived on until the early 1970s as an industrial and marine powerplant.

The Crosley was a car for the postwar motorhead, but it can also be viewed as one of the reasons that small cars did not have much appeal to the drivers of the time.

As Americans were discovering the wonders of automatic transmissions, power steering, and power brakes, with gas at less than 20 cents a gallon,  the Crosley was a car that provided prewar motoring in miniature and great gas mileage.

1951 Crosley Wagon [photo by Chequered Flag International]

1951 Crosley Wagon [photo by Chequered Flag International]

Enlarge Photo

The package brought smiles then, and it still does today.

But it's much easier to be fuel-efficient today than it was back then.

Author Rick Feibusch is an automotive journalist, historian, and classic-car appraiser living in Venice, California. He has been active in the car business and vintage car hobby for more than 50 years. He last wrote for High Gear Media about the Nic-L-Silver Battery Co. Pioneer, a vanished 1950s electric car.

He has done everything from writing and editing for websites and magazines, organizing major marque clubs, and promoting large auto events to restoring and collecting vintage cars. He also sold Toyotas when they were new to America. Today, Feibusch primarily does appraisals for antique, classic and sports cars as well as hot rods and motorcycles. You can find more of his writings here.

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Comments (4)
  1. Ironic, isn't it?

    My co-worker's Ford Model A still gets about 28mpg...
     
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  2. When I was in elementary school we had a Crosley wagon. Crosleys had a overhead cam 750cc 4 cylinder and 4 wheel disc brakes. It was very advanced in the 40's. My father sold the drive train to the 3/4 midget racers. The Crosley engine owned the 3/4 midget class!
     
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  3. Wow I just love old cars and it was very good looking and powerful. Thank you so much for sharing.
    auto parts leesburg va
     
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  4. The Crosley engine lived on in the Homelite outboard engine. I worked in the shop where stock Crosley engine blocks were modified to run vertically in the prototype test engines. You could pick up an engine block and just about carry it under your arm even though it was cast iron. Very well designed and cast...and tiny.
     
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