WHEELS | 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster

CrosleyHotshotFormer New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster, left, on display in the Coach Barn at Kykuit.

Last fall, as I wrote here, Mrs. F. and I spent a very nice afternoon at Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in Sleepy Hollow. Among the many treasures there are Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive car collection. Displayed alongside the massive midcentury behemoths the governor used while in office is a 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster.

The car, a charmingly-designed convertible that looks more like a dune-buggy than anything else, was first introduced in 1949. Rockefeller’s is a 1950 model. Time magazine has called the 1,100-pound, 149-inch car one of the worst cars of all time, writing:

What killed the Hotshot was its engine, a dual-overhead cam .75-liter four cylinder, not cast in iron but brazed together from pieces of stamped tin. When these brazed welds let go, as they often did, things quickly got noisy, and hot.

The Hotshot was manufactured until Crosley Motors ceased to be in 1952. The company had been founded in 1939 by Cincinnati industrialist Powel Crosley, who made his fortune manufacturing radios and owned the Cincinnati Reds. With the help of his brother, Lewis, he launched Crosley Motors in 1939. The cars enjoyed some popularity during World War II as they were relatively fuel efficient. After the war’s end, the line expanded to include sedans, wagons, coupes and roadsters. At its peak, in 1948, the company sold nearly 25,000 vehicles manufactured at two plants in Indiana and one in Ohio.

Crosley owners included Omar Bradley, Humphrey Bogart, Pamela Harriman, Gloria Swanson, Frank Lloyd Wright and Rockefeller.

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