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1950 Crosley Hotshot Projects


Over the last few years I have acquired a peculiar interest in the Crosley Hotshot. Maybe it’s because a Hotshot won the first race at Sebring or maybe because it is considered America’s first postwar sports car. Whatever the reason, I really like these little cars. My large frame probably wouldn’t even fit inside, but the idea of screaming down a track in this tin can is appealing for some irrational reason.


Now, if I could just find a good one. These cars were obviously meant to be cheap when new, so that is how they should be today too. The Craigslist Crosley in the photos above meets that prerequisite. $500 takes it home, but sometimes cheapest is always the best route to go. This project is located in Georgia and it looks rusty. It also appears to have been modified with many of the parts thrown into the cockpit.


This shiny red one looks a lot more promising. A restoration was started before being left to sit for years. It does start and run, but the seller states that it smokes a bit. That could mean it needs a rebuild or it could just be from stale gas. We assume that they have put fresh fuel in though because of the outboard motor tank in the trunk. This one is okay, but it is still going to need a lot of work before it can be enjoyed. Bidding here on eBay is brisk at $3,200 with 3 days left.


Obviously, it is going to be hard to find a decent Hotshot at a good price. Maybe I am crazy and should just look for something more mainstream. Mustangs and Camaros do offer some excitement, but I’m skeptical that they could provide as many thrills as one of these. Sure, you are not going to go anywhere fast, but what could be more frightening than flinging one of these little Hotshots into a corner? Maybe you guys can help me dig up a good one? Please post any you find below so we can all critique them.


  1. David

    This car looks only slightly larger than a pedal car! Add a motor, and I think you do have a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have a paramedic available before you start racing this toy around the track!

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  2. Gordon Baker

    Just looks like death on wheels to me, if you plan to drive it on the street. Just fast enough to get you seriously hurt, and too slow to allow you to get out of the way.

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  3. Charley

    I saw a Isetta with a Allison in it , well , the Isetta body was set over the Allison engine …

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  4. Clay B

    What would really get ya’ is the first engines were made out of welded sheet metal with cast iron sleeves and they got a boat motor contract with the government during World War 2. Maybe we could build a befitting Presidential Yacht for this Pres.Trust me,he would probably think it was good press to use it and reinact Washington crossing the Delaware.

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  5. crosleykook

    Hot Shots aren’t -quite- as hard to find as all that. Crosley made over 2500 of the Hot Shot and its twin-with-doors, the Super Sports, and because they were so small, many were squirreled away for safekeeping. You won’t find them everywhere, but between the internets and the Crosley Auto Club (http://crosleyautoclub.com/) newsletter, you can find a decent car at a decent price. Crosley is still one of the best buys out there for a vintage American car.

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  6. Stuart Rogers

    You don’t want this car. If you want a fun teeny car you need an austin healy sprite or an MG midget. Teeny tiny, plenty of parts and lots o’ fun….

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  7. rich

    If they were closer would check them out. The rusty ones in Georgia would be a good start on a special. Did Follow one home from a show a few years ago he had not problem running 60+ .
    Just remember it is way more fun to drive a slow car fast then a fast car slow and in their day a Crosley was the car to beat.

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  8. Brian

    My Dad raced these on flat ovals indoors back in the early ’50’s… He seems to have a real soft spot for these engines, as he owns 7 even now, with no Crosley cars to put them in. Real gem of an engine, overhead cam, integral cylinder head, and could be made to turn 8000RPM back then with appropriate speed parts.

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    • Dolphin Member

      I was going to say something about the innovative Crosley engines but Brian’s comment based on his Dad’s experience racing them on flat ovals says it all about how well these little engines ran.

      Small and light and with an overhead cam, these were before their time. The fact that they were installed in some of the small Italian sportscars of the ’50s—the Etceterini—tells you that they produced good power for a small car, and that they revved well, making the cars fun to drive and race.

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  9. jim

    what you need is a King Midget. 3 listed on Hemmings none on ebay right now

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  10. Rancho Bella

    For those of you that know little or nothing about Crosley cars, do some homework. You will find, that not only were they hot on the track but the Crosley engines were used in flat bottom racing boats. For those lucky enough as kids at local theme parks, remember the tiny fire engine and trailer the kids would get hauled around on?…….Crosley

    I am glad Crosleykook has written in, good input. If I hadn’t “just” bought another Elan, a Crosley Hotshot and wagon and the pickup would be on the radar. Hell…….I running out of room.

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  11. Somer

    There is a guy who has run a Crosley at 100+ on the Salt Flats. That is at 4200 feet too.

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    • crosleykook

      I believe Gerald Davenport of Kentucky is the one running 100+… he held the class title (J Production) for a while. Rob and Dale Liebherr are also running a Crosley at Bonnevile – they haven’t hit the century yet but they are going scary fast for a 1947 car with a 3/4 liter motor!

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  12. Bernie H

    AHHHHHH, you guys missed the real story on Crosleys and their engines. Yup, the little 35 Cu In was good for 26-35 HP depending on speed parts. Century Boat Co used these in a vertical installation called a Century Colt, a 15′ runabout back in 1957. They were horribly underpowered and most were removed, the transom cut for an outboard. The hot shot guys found a interesting speed trick in using the powerhead from a Bearcat 55 or Fisher-Price outboard which are crosleys in 55 cu in trim. Thermal King(the refridgeration manufacturer) also used these engines for semi-trailer freezer units. Parts are still available, several decent supppliers. I had a lot of these as a kid years ago……

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    • Raymond F. Pittam

      The Old Even-rude Boat Motors were also designed by Crosley Motors. I know a man 94 years old still rebuilding them. He has a dealership for those as well as Kaiser-Frazier Motors and also does Hudson Motors. Ed Ewing in Redding, Ca. It is called Outboard Center 5280 Caterpillar Rd. Redding, Ca. 530-241-5430. He is the man who rebuilt my Kohler in my Horseless Carriage 1901 Oldsmobile.

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  13. Raymond F. Pittam

    The Crosley Company made several different models of cars including a pickup and Station wagon. They also made one of the best refrigerators on the market. I knew several people who owned a Crosley. many Servicemen bought them because it was better than hitchhiking or riding a train or bus. As for room in the passenger seat and driver’s seat. you had plenty of room the same ass the Nash Metropolitan. There was a design where every inch was usable. I knew a Staff Sgt. by the name of Micky Walker who was a big man as well as his wife at least 145 pounds and four children traveled all over the United States in a Station Wagon. My best buddy Seaman Lewis Ray Leivan and his wife were married owning a Crosley. Mrs. Leivan is here on facebook all the time. When I was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1955, you seen more Crosley Cars on base and around Waynesville, Missouri than Fords or Chevy’s. The were a car that cost very little and ran like a rabbit anywhere you wanted to go. I had a 1951 Studebaker Starlight Coupe, with a V-8, and many times when we went out drinking we would go in a Crosley. The Thrill Cade Maniac Show used Crosleys for their tall 7′ Clown to drive around and he would pack as many as ten Boy Scouts in it and drive out on the Stadium Field and unload all the kids and then climb back in ass a contortionist and drive off the field. If you are old enough to remember the littlest man Cowboy I think on the Gene Autrey or Roy Roger’s Shows as well as Jack Benny’s and several other’s be drove a Crosley Sports Car all over the United States several times. The Crosley was a car that would never get stuck longer than it took to back up against the back bumper, and one healthy 150 Pound man could lift it out of the whole. We would put blocks under the back wheels and lift them off the ground so the owner couldn’t catch us when we played a prank on them.
    I feel a good Crosley today would probably bring from $3500.00 to about $5,000.00. I wish I could find a good one of any model.

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  14. Raymond F. Pittam

    The St. Joseph , Missouri Moillia Shrine has a 1948 Crosley Station Wagon Locomotive they use in the Parades every year. Years ago I used to service it. It was so fun to drive and blow the big Air Horn. It also had a real Steam Engine Whistle and Bell. You may be able to obtain photos of it if you contact them.

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  15. Rancho Bella

    Thanks you guys for the Crosley input stories. These are darling little cars and no matter which model you have………they are friggin’ neat.

    The younger ones will never get it………to busy doing nothing on an electrical device they don’t need………..

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  16. Larry

    I have fond memories of the Crosley fire truck driving thru the neighborhood giving rides to us kids back in the early and mid 50’s.

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  17. Chris

    Crosley had to switch from the pressed steel brazed engine blocks to cast iron due to corrosion that made them leak coolant. The engine design was fine, you just needed antifreeze that would prevent the corrosion. The Crosley concept was the exact opposite of what Detroit was selling, low cost and as simple as possible rather than big is better. And they weren’t built cheap, good design and good materials. A built up Crosley with the smallest Devin body would make a great 750 cc class racer. If I recall, the Crosley SS actually had disc brakes in front.The idea of a real Crosley fire engine was serious as it could get to places in amusement parks, camps or tight urban alleys with a pump and hose quicker than any standard fire engine. Powell Crosley deserves more credit than he ever got during his lifetime.

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    • crosleykook

      RE: disc brakes- the ’49-50 Super Sports had four-wheel disc brakes… as did all Crosleys of that period. They were the first US auto producer to make disc brakes standard on all cars. They went to traditional hydraulic drums at the end of ’50 after the discs had problems in areas with heavy road salt.

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