Crosley Firsts

Crosley was the first with a lot of things we take for granted today and something that never took off. Here are a few.

Crosley built the first production post war American Sports Car. The Hot Shot came out in 1949, 5 years ahead of the Chevy Corvette.

Shelves in refrigerator doors, possibly the most taken for granted Crosley first. Powel Crosley didn't invent it but knew a good idea when it is presented. He bought the idea, and for years competitors had models standing in front of their open doors so you could not see what was missing.

First disc brakes on an American built car. Crosley did it in 1949, on his full line of cars and trucks. On all 4 wheels and on cars that sold for less than $1000. Chrysler or Studebaker is usually given this honor but Chrysler did not have true disc brakes and it was after Crosley anyway. Studebaker had true discs but not till the 60s. Unfortunately Crosley didn't figure on the damage that the salt on Northern roads would cause to the alloy the calipers were made from, they were replaced with conventional drum brakes in mid 1950.

Crosley built the first Sport Utility Vehicle in late 1947. Well at least in name. They didn't think 4 wheel drive was needed for a SUV like todays definition seems to include.

Crosley claimed to have had the first all steel station wagon, starting production in November 1947. Jeep had their all steel wagon out in 1946, based on their truck model. I would bow to Jeep as being first, it depends on definitions I guess. Crosley did build more steel bodied station wagons in 1948 than any other US manufacturer, possibly the world.

Air Conditioned beds, did really take off.

Crosley produced the first all new slab side style car that would become the standard, with the first car rolling off the line on May 9th 1946. They beat Kaiser Frazier by a few weeks, with K-F production starting in June.

Powel Crosley built the first low cost radios in 1921, priced for the common man. He started the WLW radio station and kept increasing its output power so his customers had something to listen to on his cheap radios. WLW would reach 500,000 watts before being cut back to 50,000 watts. It was heard around the world from Cincinnati Ohio, as the Voice of America, during WWII.

First full-bed or fleetside-style pickup, started shipping in late 1947. At 1/4 ton you need all the space you can get.

A few other firsts, at least in a low cost car, that didn't catch on, at least not yet:
  • A block fabricated out of sheet steel. This was done by Crosley to save cost and weight. Years later the inventor/designer found that the improved cooling of the combustion chamber improved the emission numbers for the exhaust. GM played with the idea in the 70s but dropped the idea. Crosley changed to cast in early 49.
  • A shaft driven cam for lower up keep.
  • Direct actuated valves to eliminate rockers and save moving parts.
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