Monday, September 17, 2007

Who Designed the First Crosley Automobile? (Not Powel Crosley, Jr.)

Who designed the vehicle on which the 1939 - 1942 Crosley automobile was based? If you said "Powel Crosley," you're wrong. Crosley took his general idea for a car with a three-point chassis (the two rear wheels would be 18" apart) to the Murray Body Company in Cleveland. There, a designer named Keller whipped up the design you see to the left--and patented it.

(In case you're wondering--yes, this is the same Murray that would become famous for making bicycles and childrens' pedal cars.)

The image here is a drawing for the body's design patent. I've overlaid it at the bottom with a photo of the 1939 Crosley. Click it to see a giant image.

Why did Crosley change the car? Some say he had a three-wheeled car in mind at first; he thought the novelty would generate interest. But he switched to the three-point chassis with the rear wheels just 18 inches apart when he discovered that a three-wheeler would be rather unstable. He went for the odd design to attract attention, and to save money. With the rear wheels close together, he could elimiate the rear differential, replacing it with a ring-and-pinion drive (thanks Jim). One prototype with the three-point layout was built, and was dubbed the CRAD (for Crosley Radio Automotive Division). But it had its own problems, and the final production model had wheels 40" apart, front and rear.

At first Crosley tried building the four-square cars without universal joints, anyway. He ended up having to add universal joints because drive shafts were breaking.

This would not be the last expensive mistake Crosley would make ...


JimBo said...

The CRAD and 39 did lack a universal but the big item the 18" rear of the CRAD eliminated was the differential. The CRAD had a simple ring and pinion drive.

Really enjoying your blog, it is on my check daily list of URLs.


Michael A. Banks said...

Yes--thanks, Jim! Now that you mention it, I realize I shouldn't have tried to do this from memory. I'll make a change in the text. (Corrections always welcome.)

Hetal2010 said...

Valuable information and excellent design you got here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Thumbs up! Big thanks for the useful info.