In the aftermath of World War II it wasn’t just the United Kingdom that spawned low-cost sportcars built (and driven) by dedicated enthusiasts — America had the quirky Crosley Hot Shot. The love child of Cincinnati consumer-appliance magnate Powel Crosley.
Junior, the Hot Shot was the climax of his efforts, from 1939, to mass produce a small car intended to become the ‘American Volkswagen’. Crosleys never reached those heights and when sales flagged, 1949 saw Powel Crosley switch to the FarmORoad utility vehicle and the sporty Hot Shot.
This extraordinary two-seater had cutaway sides without doors, a bulbous nose topped with staring freestanding headlights and a spare tire hung on the stubby tail. Thanks to its lightweight construction, the Hot Shot’s performance was good, with excellent roadholding and reasonable acceleration. When a new engine was introduced, this proved amenable to souping up, and supercharged versions gave a top speed of the magic ‘ton’. If there was a problem, it was that earlier models had brakes that were prone to locking after they admitted road dirt. Once this problem was solved the Hot Shot became an admirable fun drive that everyone could afford, with a price tag well below $1000 -half the price of competition like imported MG TCs and TDs.
In 1950 a superior version of the Hot Shot was introduced. The Super Sports was essentially a Hot Shot with doors added, and that year the new speedster won a class in the inaugural Sebring 12-hour race. In 1951 it nearly went one better, running prominently in France’s hotly contested Le Mans 24 race before electrical problems ended this audacious bid for glory. Overwhelmed by competition from established manufacturers, Crosley production ceased in 1952-marking the end of the only true sports car made in postwar America until the Corvette arrived in 1953.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1949 (until 1952)
0 75 l (45.8 cid) Straight Four
Top speed of 77 mph (124 km/h) for models without a supercharger.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
When he first began marketing his cars in 1939, Powel Crosley distributed many of them through the appliance stores that sold his radios and refrigerators – with prices for the basic economy models
starting as low as $299.