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Last Registered in 1956: Crosley Super Wagon

Once again, from the fertile imagination of Powel Crosley and just out of sixty-seven years of storage, we have a Crosley vehicle for consideration. This one is on craigslist, a CD Super Wagon, with an asking price of $8500. Bearing Alaska plates, the wagon has recently become a snowbird and is now residing in Los Angeles, California. The seller indicates the model year is 1948, and that’s possible, but it has headlights in its fenders and the square gauge of a later car. T.J. is responsible for this pint-sized tip – thanks T.J.! The 1948 wagon was Crosley’s best-selling vehicle, with more than 23,000 finding homes. But major automakers were launching new post-war designs, striking a note of exuberance that contrasted with Crosley’s “economy” approach. And Crosley’s innovative but imperfect overhead cam, Copper Brazed (CoBra) sheet metal engine, among other issues, damaged the company’s reputation.  Sales plunged in 1949 and every year thereafter until Crosley Motors closed its doors forever on July 4, 1952.

Until 1949, Crosley used the aforementioned CoBra engine (aka the “Mighty Tin”), a 44 cu. in. overhead cam four-cylinder producing 26.5 hp, paired with a three-speed non-synchro manual. Top speed was about 50 mph. The brakes were mechanical. The CoBra motor with all its ancillaries including the flywheel only weighed 133 lbs. But it had a tendency to come apart if mistreated and was replaced in 1949 with a conventional cast-iron block that Crosley dubbed CIBA. This motor remained in production for decades after Crosley’s failure. It achieved fame on the track, both here and in Europe’s 750 cc classes. This car’s oil-bath air cleaner has gone missing, and it doesn’t run.

The interior is sagging from age. The radio blanking plate is present, but the grille mesh in the oval opening is missing. The rear seats are no better than the fronts. Anecdotes from the era warn that the back seat area isn’t too accommodating and that if you’re over six feet tall, it’s difficult to see out of the windshield when driving. The Super trim usually came with a heater, which is not in evidence.

This example has the rare “barn-type” rear door; most opened in clamshell fashion. The insert panels were either faux wood provided in “Blonde” or “Walnut”, or basketweave, or painted, usually body color. One charming feature is the propeller at the center of the grille. How much should one pay for the smallest station wagon on the planet? Well, prices are all over the lot. Here’s one at a sky-high price of $48,500. This CD Wagon sold for just over $21k. Or there’s this little guy at $16,900. These prices are a far cry from the low four digits of just a few years ago. What would it take to put this one in your garage?


  1. TomP

    Crosleys are fun cars to drive and very easy to work on. In addition, most parts are readily available at affordable prices. I have one in my driveway.

    Like 14
  2. TDJ

    Definitely not a ’48. Roll-up windows and square body is ’49 and later. Propeller indicates a ’51 or ’52.

    Like 6
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      You’re correct, It’s a ’51 or ’52. No basic difference between the 2 years, just the VIN.

      Like 2
  3. TheOldRanger

    I remember as a kid laughing at these because they looked funny. Today I just get an amused smile when I see one, which isn’t often any more.

    Like 5
  4. Rick

    The first time I saw a Crosley I thought some guy had assembled it in his garage and had given it to his kids to drive around the yard.

    Like 2
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    My ’49 wagon had the CIBA cast iron block engine and the roll up windows. The ’48 sedan body we replaced the wagon body with had sliding windows. Can’t tell if this car has the iron block engine but I also don’t remember the “square” body coming in as ’48. Either way, over priced but could be a good project.

    Like 4
  6. Dave A

    The model year is definitely NOT 48. This is a 51 or 52 vehicle. If seller discloses VIN it can be determined if the car is mistitled (if a transferable title is available) or if a VIN tag has been switched. In that case the original VIN can sometimes ve found on the frame.

    Like 4
  7. Rallye Member

    I’ve only encountered post war Crosleys with either Disc or drum brakes that were hydraulic.
    I think a Mini cooper wagon is smaller.

    Like 0
  8. Jimmy Novak

    Parts and supporters are widely available.

    Like 2
  9. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Hey everyone,

    I sent a message to the car owner concerning the ’48 or ’51 question, and he said there were 2 pink slips for 2 different Crosleys, and he picked the wrong one. He went back and checked the other pink slip and confirmed it’s indeed a 1951.

    Like 2
  10. chrlsful

    I remembered I like this w/the p/u 2nd best (not hot shot – bug eyed sprite w/o dor or top – usually?) Gotta B after ’49 or U get the stamped copper motor….

    Never realized the cobra was so popular (race, boat, plane & industrial a decade of production after). Funny, they went out 6 days B4 my birth~

    We dont have much for usa micros: metropolitan (designed usa, sold usa by usa co., but made in GB w/GB components), King Miget and a buncha ele cars. Luv the Brits tho~

    Like 0

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