Crosley Farm-O-Road

Let’s Talk Rusty Iron: Powel Crosley Jr’s Crosley Farm-O-Road was ahead of its time

| December 2011

  • A nicely restored Crosley Farm-O-Road equipped with a pickup bed
    A nicely restored Crosley Farm-O-Road equipped with a pickup bed.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • An original condition Crosley Farm-O-Road with a rear-mounted sickle bar mower
    An original condition Crosley Farm-O-Road with a rear-mounted sickle bar mower.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • Powel Crosley Jr.
    Powel Crosley Jr.
  • A 1950 publicity photo of the new Crosley Farm-O-Road with dual rear wheels and a 10-inch plow mounted on the hydraulic lift
    A 1950 publicity photo of the new Crosley Farm-O-Road with dual rear wheels and a 10-inch plow mounted on the hydraulic lift.
  • A Crosley car emblem
    A Crosley car emblem.
  • A 1939 Crosley convertible coupe owned by Brian Dlapa of Wisconsin
    A 1939 Crosley convertible coupe owned by Brian Dlapa of Wisconsin.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • A 1962 Crofton Brawny Bug with four-wheel drive and a front winch.
    A 1962 Crofton Brawny Bug with four-wheel drive and a front winch.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • 1951 Crosley Hotshot
    A 1951 Crosley Hotshot. One of these cars, minus windshield and bumpers, was entered (without the knowledge of anyone at Crosley Motors) in a 6-hour endurance run in Sebring, Fla., in December 1950, and won, racing against Jaguars and Ferraris.
    Photo by Sam Moore

  • A nicely restored Crosley Farm-O-Road equipped with a pickup bed
  • An original condition Crosley Farm-O-Road with a rear-mounted sickle bar mower
  • Powel Crosley Jr.
  • A 1950 publicity photo of the new Crosley Farm-O-Road with dual rear wheels and a 10-inch plow mounted on the hydraulic lift
  • A Crosley car emblem
  • A 1939 Crosley convertible coupe owned by Brian Dlapa of Wisconsin
  • A 1962 Crofton Brawny Bug with four-wheel drive and a front winch.
  • 1951 Crosley Hotshot

Does anyone remember the Crosley Farm-O-Road? At the Indianapolis Speedway in April 1939, Powel Crosley Jr. introduced a new line of cars to the press. The tiny economy car made its public debut at the New York World’s Fair in June that year and was billed as “The Car of Tomorrow.”  

Born in 1886, Powel Crosley Jr. had been fascinated by cars since he was a boy in Cincinnati. He tried to build cars, but his 6-cylinder Marathon never made it past the prototype stage in 1909, and the DeCross Cycle-Car of 1913 also failed.

Crosley then dreamed up and manufactured a tire re-liner to help solve the problems motorists were having with the tires of the day. The re-liners sold like hot cakes and Crosley enjoyed moderate success.

By 1919, tires had much improved and the sale of re-liners dropped. Crosley’s younger brother, Lewis, a graduate engineer who could get things done, joined Crosley after service in World War I. They made a good team, one that would last until the end: Powel dreamed up the ideas and, if they were at all practical, Lewis made them work.



Radio for the masses

To diversify, the brothers started making phonographs, which were all the rage at the time. Then, around 1920, the newfangled medium of radio began to sweep America. In February 1921, Powel’s 9-year-old son asked for a radio, or “wireless set,” as they were then called. Powel was outraged at the price of the cheapest sets, which, he observed, cost one-third as much as a Model T car.

Always one to sense an opportunity, Powel declared he could build a radio for half the price and jumped into the infant radio business. Before long, Crosley was cranking out inexpensive radios “for the masses, not the classes.” But for radios to sell, folks needed something to listen to, so Powel started a broadcasting station in Cincinnati and his sets flew off the shelves.



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds