The Little Woody – The Crosley Station Wagon 1941-1942

Crosley Woody Station Wagon 1941-1942

Crosley Woody Van-lead

The 1941 Crosley Station Wagon was one of seven models the company offered but strangely, it was also part of the story that led to the end of WW-II.  These were cheap cars, even for the time, starting out at just $299 compared to the Panel Delivery at $435, and the Station Wagon(above) at $450. The Crosley car was the brainchild of Powel Crosley, who had made his fortune as a pioneer of affordable radios and household appliances. He wanted to put one of his radios, refrigerators and car in every home in America. Crosley wielded enormous media power as the owner of AM radio station WLW, which broadcast across the country, as The Nation’s Station. Incidentally, he also owned the Cincinnati Reds baseball team before WWII. It was with manufacturing and media power base that he great his company enormously in just 10 years.

The main office and engineering facility of Crosley Motors Inc. were in Cincinnati, Ohio. The assembly plants were in Richmond, Indiana from 1939 to 1942, and then in the post war years of 1946 through 1952, moved to Marion, Indiana.

Interestingly, all the 1939-42 Crosley models used the same body sections from the doors forward. The chassis and drive trains where also identical. Today, the pre-war Panel Delivery woody is rare. The Crosley’s one sees at shows are not numerous, but out of the few I have seen in the past 25 years, none have been this woody version. According to Crosley expert, Gerald Davenport, at Crosley of Kentucky in Paducah, Kentucky, A pre-war woody Crosley is virtually unknown these days. I have a lot of rare Crosleys, and I don’t have one of these!

Powel Crosley was an early modern marketing genius. In 1941 using his radio station to generate public awareness of his cars, he engaged Canon-ball Baker to drive a Crosley sedan 2,454 miles averaging 51-mpg.  The entire trip could be followed on the radio, and the story was highlighted when Baker finished having only used $9.41 in gas!

By early 1942, Powel’s line up included the Liberty Sedan (hardtop), the Pickup, the Panel Delivery (woody), the Parkway Delivery, the Covered Wagon, the Station Wagon, the Victory Sedan (Convertible Sedan), and the Master Cabriolet (Convertible Coupe). This year, Crosley advertising was headlined with Set An Example of Patriotism for your Neighbor – Drive A New 1942 Crosley Car.

Crosley shut down car production in March 1942 to concentrate on war production, including munitions, and especially designing and manufacturing the Top Secret proximity fuse. Today, the proximity fuse, the atomic bomb, and the perfection of radar are considered to be the three critical technologies that shortened the war and helped bring about the Allied victory.

Crosley were also in the race to design a Jeep-type vehicle. To this end, they produced a more compact workhorse vehicle that could be parachuted or shipped in on a glider to the battlefield. Known as the Pup (CT3), it featured four-wheel drive with a flat, two-cylinder air-cooled engine. The Pup was tested and found in need of more development at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds and was summarily rejected by the Army. However, the Air Force liked the idea, and had Crosley build a limited quantity of the Pups before the end of 1943.

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