In the late 1930s Powell Crosley Jr. thought the American motoring public, previously accustomed to spacious, powerful cars, was prepared for a diminutive automobile and he had just the product for them.
From 1939 to 1952 thousands of the tiny Crosleys were built to help satisdy the automobile hungry American public after World War II. Various Crosley models were offered including sedans, wagons, convertibles and trucks.
Roadsters were manufactured for only four years. The annual production figures for that sporty Crosley model are:
* 1949 – 752.
* 1950 – 742.
* 1951 – 646.
* 1952 – 358.
Numbers on the remains of one of the 1952 Crosley roadsters indicate that it is only the 280th one built in the final year. For some unknown reason all of the Crosley parts from that particular car ended up in a northern Virginia BMW dealerships parts bin. That dealer knew Jon Van Sickle and his interest in smaller than usual cars. In October of 1983 he presented Van Sickle with an offer he could not refuse. Haul everything out in one day or on the second day it was all going to the dump.
Van Sickle sprung into action and as it turned out all of the parts almost constituted a complete Crosley. Once all the parts were at his Manassas, Va., home Van Sickle separated all of the parts.
Research into the Crosley history revealed that since Crosley was a relatively small manufacturer he could not purchase parts with the economy of scale that Ford or General Motors could.
As Van Sickle discovered during the restoration of his Crosley many parts came from other cars. For instance he discovered that the chrome plated emergency brake handle is identical to the brake handle used on a 1952 Pontiac. Another shared part is from a three-spoke steering wheel from a Jeep. The horn button at the center of the steering wheel is from a Volkswagen and the ignition switch is from a Model A Ford.
According to Van Sickle most all of these parts are readily available which is good news for Crosley enthusiasts engaged in restoration projects. Even the single brake light is from an Indian Motorcycle and the gas tank cap is from a Briggs and Stratton motor.
When the time came to paint his car Van Sickle chose President Red with the contrasting wheels painted Ford Wimbledon White.
The inside of the car is upholstered in red with a black fabric top trimmed in red piping. The plastic rear window can be removed with a zipper.
A three-speed non-synchromesh floor shift transmission handles the double clutch shifting duties both up and down.
What parts Van Sickle could not locate he fabricated himself such as the form fitting front and rear gravel pans. The speedometer can register speeds up to 70 mph but Van Sickle says, “I wouldn't want to be in it at that speed.”
Unbelievably, the original 4.50x12-inch Goodyears Double Eagle Super Cushion tires remain on the car after Van Sickle treated them with preservaties.
Those tires support the little car on an 85-inch wheelbase. The 44-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine develops 26.5horsepower.A six-volt battery is positioned under the hood by the 156-pound engine, At the rear of the car is the 6.5-gallon gasoline tank
In the storage space behind the two seats is room for the side curtains. Each side curtain has a flap through which the driver and passenger can reach through to gain access to the door handle. There is no outside door handle.