1 Of 358! 1952 Crosley Hotshot Super Sport

Looking like a “cross” between a Bugeye Sprite and a golf cart is this 1952 Crosley Hotshot. The product of upstart independent manufacturer Crosley, the Hotshot was a non-typical sight on U.S roads at the time of its 1949 debut. This is a nice example and it’s rare due to its “Super Sport” status – more on that to follow. This Crosley Hotshot is located in Puyallup, Washington and is available, here on craigslist for $6,350. Thanks to Gunter K for this tip!

Crosley entered the auto manufacturing business in 1939, was interrupted by WWII but got back to it in 1946 offering diminutive cars that would be considered subcompacts in size. Introduced in 1949, the Hotshot two-seater utilized existing Crosley components as a matter of cost savings. Interestingly, the Hotshot employed a standard Crosley frame but stretched the wheelbase five inches for better, sportscar-like handling and engine placement. Still, it was a small car with an 85″ wheelbase that tipped the scales at only 1,100 lbs. Manufactured through the 1952 model year, Hotshot production fell just short of 2,500 copies. An additional trim level for the Hotshot, called the Super Sport, was added in 1950 and it included hinged doors, a fold-down-in-place top, and red leather-like vinyl upholstery. The seller states that this Super Sport Hotshot is one of only 358 assembled. The Hotshot, and Crosley Automotive, ceased operations in 1952, another victim of the post-war boom in auto manufacturing that was being rapidly dominated by the Big Three.

The seller claims that this Hotshot was locked in enclosed, heated storage and must be sold. The term of storage has been kind, there is no evidence of corrosion, water damage, rodent destruction, or any other malady that can affect a long-term, stored automobile. The seller mentions that the finish is a repaint and it was done with the original hue in mind – it looks good! The bumpers have a strong chrome finish and are not showing any evidence of misguided parking action that so often befalls small car rams. There is a convertible top frame present but it will require recovering.

The interior is minus its original seats, the seller suggests that the buckets in place are probably Porsche sourced items that have definitely have seen better days – they will require reupholstering. The seller adds, “Original seats are torn along the headrest” – I’m not certain if he’s referencing this Hotshot’s original seats or the ones installed that are referred to as Porsche seats. The remainder of the interior, as spartan as it is, seems fine though the shift knob is missing and there is some sort of underlay that has become dislodged from the passenger side of the dashboard.

Power in the amount of 26 HP is delivered by a 724 CC, in-line, four-cylinder engine. While 26 HP takes a bit of the “hot” out of Hotshot, 80 MPH is the claimed top speed though there is no word on how long it takes to get there. Unfortunately, this Crosley is a non-runner and has been for some time though the seller has a spare engine included with the sale. A Borg-Warner three-speed manual transmission puts the limited available power to the solid rear axle.

This is a pretty rare sports car, in seemingly solid condition, that should be a fun drive when operational. There is a warning that goes with some cars like an old Lincoln, Cadillac, Pierce-arrow, etc. to advise the buyer to make certain that they have a storage space large enough to accommodate their outsized acquisition. In this case, a more appropriate warning would be for the buyer to make certain that this Crosley Hotshot will be able to accommodate their size, right?


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  1. RayT Member

    I’m 6’2″ tall and have driven a Hotshot quite easily and (relatively) comfortably, Jim, and it wasn’t even a door-equipped Super Sport!

    Can also say that 26 bhp is enough to have some fun with, even if not quite up to cross-country trips. And if you want more, I’m sure there is quite a bit of Braje (the Crosley wizard) speed equipment still to be found, as well as lots of service/repair parts. I don’t recall whether the Hot Shot/SS used standard Crosley seats, but it should be possible to track the right ones down, too. And maybe even a shift knob and a Crosley radio!

    The only thing keeping me from making an offer is lack of a safe place to stash this little jewel. If it was good enough to win the first race at Sebring, it’s good enough for me!

    Like 11
  2. Raymond

    Didn’t these have brazed copper heads or something like that?….rare garage ornament maybe, paint it pink and hang it on the wall….

    • RayT Member

      Crosley built its early passenger car/military engine blocks from sheet steel copper-brazed (“Cobra”) together. These were notoriously unreliable, and gave way to a conventional cast block design called “CIBA” (cast-iron block assembly).

      The later engines were reliable, and pretty easy to hop up. Aside from passenger cars, they were used in a few sports cars built in Italy (Bandini, Nardi, Ermini? Siata?) and in boats and some industrial applications. I believed the Italians came up with a twincam head for them as well.

      Like 5
      • Rob L Member

        In a lawsuit against a kit car builder, Caroll Shelby would tell the court that Cobra came to him in a dream. It is more likely that he recalled CoBra from the Crosley Engines use in Midget race cars.

        Like 1
    • chrlsful

      all stamped cooper & melted (CoBra). CIBA was as this one and in more/later vehicles.

  3. Ed H

    Harbor Freight Predator swap!

    Like 1
  4. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    If you removed that golf cart windshield and replaced it with a low-profile Speedster type windshield, it would improve the overall looks by at least 75%.

    And just think of the positive effect that would also have on the performance of that 26 HP motor… Well, maybe not.

  5. Chas H

    The Crosley engine was developed by Lloyd Taylor, who went on to design a high performance engine along with Ted Tyce, the owner of a sheet metal shop specializing in aircraft parts. It looked promising back in 1961, but sadly went nowhere.

    Like 2
  6. Ntorch

    Seats look like they are from a late model MG Midget

  7. Lee

    James Broadwell made a sports car using Crosley Hot Shot parts. It was called a Jabro. There was one on an earlier post of BF.

    In the late 60’s early 70’s the TQ midget racers would use the Hot Shot motors and misc parts for their racers. Back then I was given a Jabro minus most of the Crosley parts. I eventually powered the Jabro with a 4cyd GM motor. But wished now that I had just found a Crosley donor car.

    Like 1
    • Chas H

      The Crosley engine was well built and suited to sports cars. The 5 main bearing crank was years ahead of its time, especially for a cheap minimalist car. Since the cylinder head was cast as one piece with the block, I doubt a twin cam head was made-unless the entire cylinder block was replaced.
      I had a small fork lift truck using a Crosley engine running on propane. A friend still has it.

      Like 2
  8. Lance

    Why am I thinking Elmer Fudd when I see this???

    Like 3
  9. Rob L Member

    We had a 1950 Fork Lift that used Crosley engine. My father would buy old cars for parts. I cut apart a station wagon and turned it into a go-cart. I held onto a complete wagon to restore .unfortunatly it was lost in a barn fire.

  10. Manny

    This engine was very easy to hop up, and it was a mainstay of the “H” modified class in the SCCA in the mid to later 50’s. This motor eventually became the Homelite outboard motor that was rated at 40 hp, so it was easy to get more power from it.

  11. Frank of Eden

    The eng. was also used to power tractor trailer’s refrigeration units that were mounted on the front of the trailer above the tractor for a few years. They were light and reliable.
    26 hp is sort of misleading in our day of 300 hp and up cars. But we must remember that Ford flat heads had about 100 hp and they were pushing much larger heavier cars. These little cars were almost a go-cart in size, very light by comparison to most veh.s of the time.

  12. Brian S

    My Dad raced these in an indoor armory flat oval back in the early ’50s. There are some really cool performance parts for these and you could bump the compression ALOT since there is no head gasket (or head for that matter). Valves are loaded through the bores. He said they would wind them to 9000RPM all day and they were stout.

    Like 1
  13. Mark

    Lee what happened to your Jabro? I have never run across one with a GM motor. Mark

    • Lee

      I sold it to a guy that like cars, but never kept any one of them very long. That was in the early 70’s. I can only assume he sold it to someone that really didn’t know the car’s history and it eventually sat around in someone’s yard and got scraped. I was especially saddened when I later saw a magazine article describing one in a historical race as “A very rare Jabro.”

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