V8/5-Speed: 1950 Crosley Hotshot

The concept of slotting a V8 engine under the hood of a small roadster is hardly new, with the AC Shelby Cobra and the Sunbeam Tiger being two notable examples. However, when you apply the principle to one of the smallest and lightest roadsters to roll off an American production line, the potential exists to take performance to a different level. Thankfully, the owner of this 1950 Crosley Hotshot hasn’t taken their build to the extreme, but the flathead V8 under the hood should allow it to hold its own in most situations. The quality of this build is difficult to criticize, but the moment has arrived when it needs to find a new home. Located in Eugene, Oregon, the seller has listed the Hotshot for sale here on eBay. Moderate bidding has pushed the price to $11,254, although that figure is short of the reserve.

The Hotshot has always ignited a debate, with some enthusiasts arguing that it represents the first attempt by an American manufacturer to create a lightweight two-seat sports car. Whether or not you agree with that argument, it is undoubtedly one of the smallest. Its overall length of 137 inches matches the legendary “Bugeye” Sprite, although it is two inches narrower. It represented the company’s sole attempt at producing a genuine sports car, and Crosley pinned its hopes for survival on the Hotshot proving a sales success in an increasingly competitive new car market. Sadly, it wasn’t the savior required, and vehicle production ended in 1952. At first glance, this 1950 Hotshot looks like a classic that presents beautifully following a meticulous restoration. However, there is more to this beauty than meets the eye. The seller acid-dipped the body before ensuring the panels were laser straight. Once the body met their exacting standards, the seller applied paint in a shade called Arrest Me Red. It presents superbly, with no visible flaws or defects. Delving below the surface reveals a custom fabricated frame designed to cope with performance improvements. The seller keeps the Crosley safely hidden away in a garage when not in use, allowing the roadster to remain rust-free. The exterior trim is spotless, as is the windshield. The seller’s decision to fit the steel wheels with immaculate Crosley hubcaps, period-correct trim rings, and wide whitewall tires adds the perfect finishing touch to the exterior. The more observant among you will have noticed the air cleaners poking through the hood, and that’s where the story of this Hotshot takes a fascinating twist.

When it was shiny and new, this Hotshot’s engine bay would have housed a 44ci four-cylinder engine producing 27hp. The power fed to the rear wheels via a three-speed manual transmission, and thanks to an overall weight of a mere 1,175lbs, this Crosley would have skipped through the ¼ mile in 23.5 seconds. That may not sound that stunning, but considering that the “Bugeye” Sprite took 21.5 seconds to complete the same journey on introduction in 1958, utilizing a larger and significantly more powerful engine, there is no shame in that figure. It’s all academic, anyway. The original engine and transmission are a distant memory, with the engine bay now containing a Ford flathead V8-60 of 1939 vintage. The seller treated this 136ci beast to a rebuild, and while any internal upgrades are unknown, it inhales deeply via triple Stromberg carburetors and exhales through a set of side pipes. It would be safe to assume that the power output would be considerably higher than its original 60hp. The owner didn’t merely drop a V8 under the hood and hope for the best but tackled this build as a complete package. The custom frame helps the vehicle cope with the additional power, which feeds to a shortened 3.56 “banjo” rear end via a T5 manual transmission. Steering is by rack-and-pinion, while braking duties fall to Crosley’s factory discs. It would be difficult to guess the performance improvements from these upgrades, but it would be safe to assume that the ¼-mile ET now sits well below 20 seconds. The seller supplies this YouTube video showing the Hotshot starting and driving. Its little flathead sounds perfect, and there are no signs of smoke or unwanted noises. Thanks to the overdrive ratio provided in its five-speed transmission, the seller states that it cruises on the open road happily at 70mph. They also includes a 2″ thick folder of documentation for this classic, allowing the buyer to track the build process.

The Hotshot’s interior presentation matches the rest of the car, making it difficult to fault. It features custom upholstery in Ivory, with contrasting Red piping and carpet. The dash is also a custom item that features its original and recalibrated gauges supplemented by aftermarket gauges hidden in the glove compartment. A period-correct radio provides entertainment on the move, with speakers flush-mounted behind the seats. If I were to mark this interior harshly on any aspect, it would be the seller’s choice of shifter knob. Considering the classy presentation of this build, an eightball looks out of place. If I were to buy this classic, that would probably be the only thing I would change. I think that a leather-wrapped knob would be more appropriate in this Crosley.

Introduced in 1949, the Crosley Hotshot remained on sale until 1952. During that time, 2,498 Hotshots rolled out of the Crosley factory in Marion, Indiana. One of the difficulties posed by classics like our feature car is determining its potential value. If this were an unmodified Hotshot in the condition we see here, its value would exceed $20,000. The significant upgrades change the game enormously, and as is often the case, a car like this becomes worth what someone is willing to pay. The seller supplies a written valuation suggesting a figure between $35,000 and $40,000, although it is worth noting that they obtained that evaluation in 2005. There’s no doubt that this beauty would offer an entertaining driving experience, but what would you be willing to pay? More importantly, are you tempted to join the bidding so you can slip behind the wheel during the coming warmer months?


  1. Todd J. Member

    Nicest Hotshot I’ve ever seen…..or imagined, as far as that is concerned. As a buyer, I would be sorely tempted to pull the engine and put it in something with a little more panache.

    Like 4
    • Blyndgesser

      What has more panache than a vintage hot rod with a flathead Ford under the hood??

      Like 22
  2. Mayberry Jim

    This is a terrible idea. I want it BAD.

    Like 1
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I haven’t seen one of these in the flesh in years. If I recall they are tiny… I wish there was something (anything) parked beside it to gauge. Looks like an interesting and clean build.

    Like 5
    • Danny from Oz

      The ad tell you it’s the same size as. Healey Sprite.

      Like 1
  4. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    That’s a real cool ride. It’s so nice looking and well kept. I like the way the engine sounds but a wonder if a flathead V8 supercharger would fit. Then it really would fly! 😄🇺🇸

    Like 4
  5. doug edwards

    This buggy is just tremendously cool. You just can’t realize how tiny this car is.

    Like 2
  6. Jack M.

    It looks like the seller has quite the collection of oddball vehicles.

    Like 4
  7. Steve Clinton

    Eight years before the Austin Healey Bug-eyed Sprite!

    Like 1
  8. Kim in Lanark

    I would bid on it if I had that kind of dough to blow, I am figuring 30-35k. I see the front end is modified, and modified quite well. I would call it a restomod using Crosley sheet metal. Granted Crosley used discs, but I’d replace the factory brakes with something a bit better.

  9. Joe Haska

    What a neat car and a fantastic build. There was a tremendous amount of thought and enginering to do this. Some readers might not understand the significance of the V-8 60. It is the smallest flathead Ford ever built, it was suppose to be for better gas mileage and operating cost. They were available in 1937 to 1940. They were not very popular, I have only seen one 40 Ford with a V-8 60. There biggest success was in Midgets and boats. Probably the next biggest thing was coffee tables for your man cave. Surpriseingly there was a lot of speed equipment manufactured for them,probably because of the midgets. The first time I saw one I couldn’t believe how small it was, but it looked just like it’s big brother. If you looked at it with nothing to compare it too, you had no idea, but you knew something was wrong. It would be the perfect choice for this Crosley ,with the 5 speed, I had a real flathead 286″ with the 5 speed and it was awsume. For those of you who think you could put in a better V-8, you don’t understand how small this car and engine are. All I know for sure is I would love to have it.

    Like 11
  10. Joe Haska

    I just looked at all the postings on this car again. It is so well done , I have total respect for the buider, he did some very cool things. It is not mentioned any where, but I am almost certain that a DuVall windshield. If you don’t know what that is, won’t mean much. However if it is, its incrediable, he either made one fit or made his own. If any one knows please share it with me.

    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      I was 16 years old in what was Southern Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe) when I learned to drive in my Father’s English Ford V8 Pilot, three on the column, which I believe had the V8-60 engine. The Pilot was a big, heavy, English car that the V8 battled to haul. My Dad put rims modified to work like tractor tyres by welding angle iron across from inner rim to outer rim, in order to PLOUGH the soil so that he could plant potatoes! At least it had low gearing and lots of torque. The pic is of a lovely Ford Pilot on show here in UK.

    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      I was 16 years old in what was Southern Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe) when I learned to drive in my Father’s English Ford V8 Pilot, three on the column, which I believe had the V8-60 engine. The Pilot was a big, heavy, English car that the V8 battled to haul. My Dad put rims modified to work like tractor tyres by welding angle iron across from inner rim to outer rim, in order to PLOUGH the soil so that he could plant potatoes! At least it had low gearing and lots of torque. The pic is of a lovely Ford Pilot on show here in UK.

  11. Lee

    Does it come with elbow pads?

    Like 1
  12. Mark Ruggiero Member

    Am I correct in understanding this to be maybe the very first car to come with factory 4 wheel disc brakes?

    Like 2
    • Jace F.

      Nope. I’m pretty sure the first factory 4-wheel disc brake system was optional on all 1949 Chrysler cars.

      • Mark Ruggiero Member

        It’s pretty close. I think 50 was not the first year for this car, so a 49 might have had them too. Wish I could find where I read it, because if it’s on the internet it must be true right?!?

  13. Lance

    Looks like the builder added a front grill for more cooling. Good move with a flathead. A Ford engine isn’t the only Ford part. Check out the 39 Ford tail lights.

    Like 2
  14. Howie

    Exterior: arrest me red.

    Like 1
  15. Gerard Frederick

    Now I know what inspired the Kleinschnittger design! What a neat car to tool around in.

  16. Kelly Breen

    That is a beauty. I wish I could afford it.

  17. chrlsful

    job well done but I would much rather see (do) a restoration (just no copper engine). I can’t call this a rest0mod as it’s only 4, 5% resto.

    If it’sa 136 ci bent8, it has 17 cubes per cylinder. No wonder the flatties were so poor on performance (MPGs & pep) and difficult to improve.

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