Last year for Crosley production. Neat, fun little car that's economical to buy and own. Great colors, nice convertible top, ready to enjoy at a budget price.
Sadly, we don't know a lot about this bright yellow roadster other than the fact that someone really wanted to make sure you saw it coming. It's clearly been restored and not too long ago, because the bright yellow paint has a great shine and the basic bodywork looks great. It's an inexpensive car and always has been, so perfection was probably not the goal, but as far as micro cars go, this one can hold its head high in that diminutive crowd. The slab-sided body is pure function over form, but it, too, manages to be cheeky and light-hearted, which is all part of the car's appeal. The doors open and close easily and the hood is actually a removable panel held in place with a key lock, and it's been fitted with an eagle hood ornament that's either wholly appropriate or someone's idea of a joke. Either way, it looks right above the oval Crosley grille and between the headlights, which pre-date the bug-eyed Sprite by a few years.
The bright red vinyl interior is basic, but don't think that because the car is small that there isn't enough room. Your legs stretch out ahead of you and there's a surprising amount of room once you're situated behind the wheel. Yes, it's basic, with the wheel looking a lot like those used during WWII on Army Jeeps, but the individual bucket seats are comfortable and the gauges have jaunty red faces. The controls are familiar and that long shifter manages a simple 3-speed manual transmission that's easy to master and clutch action is quite light. All the gauges are operational save for the fuel gauge, the horn works, and, well, there's really not much to it beyond that. Black carpets on the floor help with noise and heat and there's a modicum of weather protection offered by the black canvas convertible top that's insanely easy to erect and stow. The only notable wear and tear on the interior is a scuff in the driver's seatback where the convertible top mechanism rubs against it. Other than that, it's ready to have fun!
Mechanically, it's as small as you'd think with a 44 cubic inch inline-4 making 26 horsepower, but with a single overhead camshaft, it's eager to rev and very gutsy. The little four cylinder engine fits easily in the engine bay and offers great service access, adding to the car's durable appeal. It starts easily and runs well, using a single downdraft carburetor, and there's a rorty exhaust bark from out back. It wants to play! It's not finicky and has all the usual hardware, from a mechanical fuel pump to a heater with shut-off valves. Up front there's a giant radiator given the size of the engine, so it never seems to get very warm, and it has great oil pressure both at idle and at speed. It's not really detailed for show, but it's serviceable and tidy with obvious signs of recent maintenance, suggesting that someone loved the car and wanted to enjoy it properly.
The 3-speed manual transmission shifts easily, and with a little practice you'll easily master the slightly long throws (inevitable with that funky shifter). It's obviously not a highway car, with 5.17 gears out back, but you'd have to be crazy to want to run this little car among the semis and SUVs hammering along at 80 MPH. No, this little Super Sport is happiest on a quiet country road where you can wring it out in each gear, letting the eager little engine do its thing at about 45-50 MPH. The suspension is equally basic, with rigid axles fore and aft and there's a drum brake at each corner. Sporting red wheels are 12 inches in diameter and carry relatively recent 4.50-12 Goodyear tires.
1952 was the final year of Crosley production and only 1522 vehicles were built, only a fraction of which were Super Sport roadsters. This isn't a perfect car, but it offers a lot of fun and will generate more attention than cars costing ten times as much. We have to admit that it's endearing to have the little yellow roadster greet us each morning and we love the idea that you can still have fun in this hobby on a shoestring budget.
For more details and photos, please visit www.HarwoodMotors.com