The Reds, Radio’s and Rationing: 1951 Crosley Sport

What do the Cincinnati Reds, America’s favorite radio, and gas rationing have to do with each other? They are all part of the unique history of Industrialist Powel Crosley Jr and the quirky cars that his car company, Crosley Motors, brought us from 1939 to 1952, including the 1951 Crosley Super Sport found here on eBay.

Powel Crosley Jr and his younger brother Lewis had always dreamed of building automobiles – even creating an inexpensive auto in 1907 called the Marathon Six, and then again in 1937 when the brothers created the three-wheeled, under $400 CRAD (Crosley Radio Auto Division). It’s important to note that during the 30 years between car projects, Powel and his brother founded the American Automobile Accessory Company, Crosley Radio, Crosley Refrigerators, Crosley Broadcasting, bought the Cincinnati Red baseball team – and amassed a fortune.

Still, cars were the brother’s passion, and in reaction to severe gas rationing during WWII, the Crosley Motor Company was born (again) with the goal of creating gas savvy, inexpensive, quality transportation for Americans. Almost all of their offerings were utilitarian (in fact Crosley is the company that coined the original use of “Sport(s) Utility” for autos. Their micro-car models included sedans, pickups, convertibles, a jeep inspired vehicle, and station wagons.

It wasn’t until 1949 that Crosley introduced their own version of a roaster – called the Hotspot, a door-less car who relied on the glass windshield for passenger protection. In 1951 they updated that Hotspot with doors and a fold-down roof and renamed it the Super Sport. The survivor found here and offered at a Buy it Now price of $4.2k, could actually be a good little investment. It seems to have all the original badging, parts and bits – and the seller says the motor “…moves freely…” but will need work. Considering good condition Super Sports seem to fetch between $9k and $15k, there’s certainly the opportunity for macro-profit on this historical micro-car!

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  1. Howard A

    Timing was everything. Even though, this, I believe, was the 1st American 2 seat sports car,( beating Nash Healey and Corvette) and the 1st car with 4 wheel disc brakes, but motorists after the war had anything BUT small cars on their minds. They wanted big Buicks with Fireball motors, not little putt-putts. The motor was the Crosley downfall. I think these had a one piece block and head, making them difficult to rebuild. Today, with a better motor would be a hit . Quite a find, regardless.

    • Wolfgang Gullich

      1st American 2-seat sports car would be the 1914 Mercer Raceabout ;)
      Also, the engine is a normal 2-piece block and head. Crosley introduced many innovations to the auto industry to include aluminum heads and 4 wheel disc brakes. Crosley even won at 24 Hours at Sebring in 1950.

      • 1949 Crosley

        Well you could say a lot of cars are Americans first sports car and actually the Mercer is really a race car that just happens to be street legal. Just by looking at the car you can tell it’s made for the track just like the bearcat. We could say the curved dash Oldsmobile or the Model T runabout is Americans first sports car just cause they are 2 doors and are convertibles. What’s important to note is that none of those company’s claimed in they’re advertising in being a sports car they just said the car was fast and stylish in most cases. Crosley used the term sports car in their advertisements. Also yes Americans did want put put cars look at the MG TC and TD those are definitely little put put cars in fact look at the Austin Healey Bugeyed sprite looks similar to the Hotshot and that car sold very well here in the U.S and the U.S was Britain’s greatest market. More MGs sold her than anywhere else in the world. Crosley would have been successful IF they did not use the Cobra engines/Copper Brazed these engines were known to be junk and it ruined Crosleys reputation making nobody want to buy these cars and that lead to they’re demise in 1952. I agree with Howard too the engines are quite hard to rebuild but you can find rebuilders and since parts are cheap you can get an engine rebuilt for not to much money and it will most likely be more reliable then some of the other engines you could put in it anyways.

  2. Dick Johnson

    A “Hotspot Roaster?” Fake News.

    • Doug

      Actually, it was the Crosley Hotshot – just a typo or one of those “spellchecker” errors that make real proofreaders cringe……
      The 750cc overhead cam engines were quite powerful for their size in that era, and very light weight. Many SCCA racers would put them in other cars or homebuilt “specials” . one year at the Monterey Historics, I watched a guy lift the Crosley engine out of his car (a Nardi ) set it on a stand, and lift another engine off it’s stand and set it in the car -all with just his own 2 hands ! One of my favorites was the Thundermug Special, which looked like a shrunken Birdcage Maserati – link here,23947/1960-tholen-thundermug-h-mod-special_photo.aspx
      ( Thundermug was a slang term for a bedpan )

  3. Brian

    Crosley engines had the head cast with the cylinders, so technically you are both wrong. Crankcase was separate casting. They also have an overhead camshaft acting directly on the valves. My dad raced these Crosley Hot Shots in an indoor armory oval, said you could really run high compression thanks to no head gasket. They would spin them at 9000 rpm all night.

  4. EmmyJ

    Pretty sure it was “Hot Shot,” not “Hotspot.”

    • Dave

      Yes HOT SHOT

  5. rod444

    No Crosley will ever win in a ‘curb appeal’ contest but if you squint and hold your head the right way, this one does have a homely charm to it.

    What I want to know is whether the front hubcaps are much harder to pull than the rears and thus the “handle” on them? Or what?

  6. George

    Never heard of a “Hotspot.” “Hotshot” on the other hand…

  7. thehatofpork

    Although Hotspot would be a good name for a roaster-but not for a roadster.

  8. Ikey Heyman

    Recently saw an auction for a real nice running one on another site at a little less than twice the asking price for this one. Buying that would have saved you a lot of work and you could be out driving it right now on this nice sunny day!

  9. Barry

    I have a Crosley indoor racer. Raced at cincy gardens in the early 50s.

    • Brian

      @Barry — Could’ve been my Dads, that’s when he was racing in Cincinnati and south of there. Would love to show him a photo.

  10. Dave Waddell

    In the fifties, you could rent a Hot shot to drive up and down the beach at Daytona Beach Fl.. After a year or so, they were converted to Briggs and Stratton (?) engines. I was just a child but I thought they were cool!

  11. Beatnik Bedouin

    These were very popular in SCCA racing in the 1950s and into the ’60s.

    The Crosley Man is 100% correct that the CoBra engine should have never been used in an automotive application – the ex-military mill was never designed as such (and remember, I knew the engine’s designer, Lloyd Taylor).

    The replacement cast engine was what the brand should have used from Day 1, not that it would have saved the company.

    This example looks like good buying

  12. Mitch

    The driver of the Sebring winning Hotshot was venerable Road & Track writer Henry Manning III

  13. Steve

    I now own this supersport in this article. Would you have any of the Ebay seller details so I could contact him for more info (Because it is already deleted on Ebay). Thanks

    • 1949 Crosley Hotshot


      I own a 1949 Crosley Hotshot which I am restoring right now. I cannot help you with contacting the seller but if you’re looking for more information on Crosley Supersports please contact he’s the Crosley club president and has helped me greatly with working on my car and finding out what’s original. Few observervations I would like to comment on you car maybe for future reference first off the center tail light is an after market piece and second you have some Crosmobile hubcap which is a rare find! Please consider joining the Crosley club and I wish you the best of luck on finding the previous owner!

  14. Steve

    Thanks for the response. I finished a 1949 Hotshot in 2004, but have since sold it. Good luck with your 49 and thanks again for the response!

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