A Fine Car: 1951 Crosley wagon


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“A fine car” was the Crosley motto. If you ever wondered who built the first “sport utility” vehicle, what the first American car with caliper disk brakes or who produced the first successful single overhead cam engine, you certainly wouldn’t think of Crosley. Crosley also produced the first American sports car, the “Hot Shot” and those little cars did win races. This Crosley probably won’t win any races, but it sure is a nice. The $3,000 asking sure seems reasonable for such a lovely little car. There is no information provided except that it was a barn find and that it runs. It appears to have been restored at some time and driven little since. It appears completely original and complete.


The interior looks amazing in this picture, like new perhaps. This car must have not seen much use before being parked.


That tiny little engine makes the engine compartment look huge. That little 4 cylinder engine produced over 44 HP. Versions of this engine were produced by various companies until 1972 and used in racing and marine applications.


The front of this tiny car looks like a sad little puppy, doesn’t it? And yes, that is a propellor in the middle of the grill that spins as you drive, a feature of the deluxe model. If this has been sitting it will perhaps take some sorting to get it running properly. This could be a fun car to own, bringing lots of smiles if not many miles. So do you think this little Crosley puts enough of a smile on your face to buy it? If so, you can find it listed on Craigslist in Santee, California. So could you imagine owning a tiny car like this Crosley?

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  1. grant

    I could, and I love it. But does it appear original, or does it appear to have been restored?

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  2. Cassidy

    Looks restored, who cares? I’d buy it!

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  3. Fred

    Probably easy to get running and a steal of a price. Trailer it to car shows and have a ball.

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  4. brakesevo

    I’ve always thought these really ugly, must be miserable to drive . . . for what it’s worth, ol’ Powel Crosley drove a Duesenberg back in the day . . . how much seems to have rubbed off onto his cars, ha ha.

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  5. z1rider

    What makes this a Sport Utility Vehicle? The overhead cam engine? I don’t think so. It’s a station wagon, nothing more.

    In fact I would contend that Woodies were the first SUV’s. Especially when fitted with the Marmon Herrington 4WD system.


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  6. Brakeservo

    Actually, the “grandfather” of the SUV is the American made version of the Austin 7, sold as the Bantam because it led to the original Jeep prototype which led to the Willys Overlander and so forth.

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  7. steve

    Hate the fact that you didn’t put the link in the e mail.

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  8. Matt Tritt

    According to the original advertising for the Willys station wagon of 1948, they came up with the term Sport-Utility Vehicle. There were other 4 wheel drive utility wagons, but Willys coined the term.

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  9. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    I love the Crosleys, don’t get me wrong. Yet, with the full-on post-war design bacchanal that was in full swing when this car was built, (and with Exner’s excesses yet to come!), I have to wonder which segment of American society would buy such a tiny little misfit-looking car.

    OK sure, there were thrifty types back in those days, even more so than today of course, but if you had to take your driver’s test back in ’51 in one of these, would you dare to drive it to high school if you passed?
    I have only questions.

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  10. Chris A.

    Just after WWII when new cars were hard to get, Crosley got into the market. Powell Crosley’s target market was urbanites who needed cheap transportation. For example two maiden lady teachers at my elementary school had this exact car, I remember one yellow and one blue. What I do hope here is that the engine has the cast block, not the brazed copper sheet metal. That tiny OHC engine responded well to modifications and hot cams. The Crosley “Hot Shot” was well named. A Crosley with the small Devin glass body was a cute car.

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  11. Matt Tritt

    Our neighbors right accross the street also had one exactly like this, apple green and all. The guy was a high school teacher who commuted in it from Corona Del Mar to Newport Harbor Union High School, about 6 miles away. My brother nad I rode in it a few times, and even then it seemed like a car built for kids!

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