Tag Archives: Crosley

The Little Car Show 2014 – City of Marina

Today’s post starts with an apology, a couple of years ago I posted a blog called “Continental Curiosities – Carmel By The Sea Concour’s d’Elegance” turns out it should have been called “Continental Curiosities – The Little Car Show City of Marina” or something similar and a little more snappy, I hope you will accept my unreserved apologies for any confusion.

Bantam Convertible Coupé, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

Today’s post comes courtesy of Geoffrey Horton who kindly forwarded these photographs comes from the 2014 edition of The Little Car Show held last month in the City of Marina. Above a 1940 American Bantam Convertible Coupé also known as the Hollywood a body style apparently penned by Elanor Powell’s Custom Motors stylist Alex Tremulis.

Crosley 2 door Sedan, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

Not sure of the exact age of this Crosley but the absence of chrome suggests it was built in 1946/7 with the original not terribly reliable copper brazed ‘CoBra’ 4 cylinder motor that was to be replaced by the Cast Iron Block Assenbley ‘CIBA’ in 1949.

BMW Isetta 600, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

The Isetta was the ultimate version of the BMW 250 Isetta three wheel bubble car built under licence from Iso Rivolta. This 1958 example is powered by a two cylinder BMW motorcycle engine and can accommodate four passengers who enter through it’s single front door.

Enzmann 506, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

I had not heard of Enzmann before Geoffrey sent me the photograph of the fibre glass bodied 506 model above. The Swiss company named it’s first, only (?) model, based on the floor pan and running gear of a VW Beetle, after the number of the stand it was allocated at the 1957 Frankfurt Motor Show at which the company made it’s first public appearance.

Michelotti Shellette, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

For those with a private island or private yacht in the Mediterranean in need of occasional transport designer Giovanni Michelotti built the Shellette under his own name in limited numbers. It is believed around 100 of these vehicles with wicker seats and Fiat 850 running gear were built and around 10 are thought to exist today.

FIAT Vignale Garmine, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

Based on the smaller FIAT 500 is the Viganle Garmine which was a pet project of designer Alfredo Vignale which bankrupted his coachworks business.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Little Car Show 2014″ edition of Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again for Americana Thursday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Fast, The Curious and The Elegant – 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

Today’s post is the first of four this that come courtesy of Geoffrey Horton who attended the 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours on August 14th and subsequently sent me nearly two hundred photographs.

Jaguar XK 140 FHC SE, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

As ever Geoffrey took his faithful Jaguar XK 140 FHC SE/MC to the show a car which looks a little more pristine with every show.

Allard LLC, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

Bracketed in the fast vehicles present was this 1947 Allard LLC, which could serve as a serious competition vehicle on or off road or as a roaring roadster.

Lola T70 Mk 1 Spyder, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

This 1965 Lola Ford T70 Mk 1 Spyder chassis #SL/10 was driven to a win the at the 1965 Bridgehampton 200 part the USRRC series, a precursor to the first Can Am Challenge in 1966, by Jerry Grant. Jerry is best known for being the first man to lap a closed circuit at over 200 mph, a feat he achieved on the September 3rd 1972 driving one of Dan Gurney’s Eagle Offy’s. Sadly Jerry passed away two days before the Carmel Concours d’Elegance took place.

Packard Starlight, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

Former luxury automobile manufacturer Packard made a chain of bad decisions after the 1939-45 War that saw it make a disastrous entry into the volume market, in which it was too small to compete with the “Big Three” and abandon the luxury market in which the only real profits were to be made. As a consequence Packard merged with Studebaker in 1955 and within three years the Packard name, along with those of de Soto, Edsel, Hudson Nash and Kaiser was to disappear from the market forever. This 1958 Packard Coupé is essentially an up market Studebaker President with some glass fibre body editions to make the headlight clusters and tail fins. These Coupés were sometimes referred to as “Starlights” while the ’58 Packard range was disparagingly referred to as Packardbakers.

Lamborghini 400GT, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

Early Lamborghini models can be a bit of a night mare to distinguish the 350 GT is easy it had oval front light’s but it shared its rear end with the early 400GT, often referred to as 400GT Interim, which had four round head lights as did the later more common 400GT 2+2 which can only be distinguished by it’s smaller rear window. The back of this car has the larger rear window indicating it is one of just 23 400GT Interims built around 1966 packing a 320 hp 3929 cc / 240 cui V12 motor.

Chrysler Town & Country, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

From 1939 to the cessation of manufacture in 1942 Chrysler built around 1000 Woodie Town & Country Barrel Backs. Using a traditional ash frame, as still used by the likes of Morgan, that is contrasted by Honduran mahogany panels. These cars can fetch up to $250,000 at auction with the correct provenance.

Crosley Sedan, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

Crosley built a huge variety of small vehicles this 1948 CC Sedan was built in the companies most successful year when over 29,000 vehicles left the factory.

Electra King, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

This 1973 Electra King, not to be confused with the other Elektra King, James Bond’s nemesis, was manufactured by the B & Z Electric Car Company in Long Beach California. Classed as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) it was designed as a short range runabout. The cars were in production from 1961 to 1974 when a combination of nuisance law suits from the big automobile manufacturers and California States desire to license and regulate NEV’s made the cost of production prohibitive.

Austin A40 Devon, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

The Austin A40 Devon was the first post war design from Britains largest car manufacturer, this car built in 1951 was shipped straight to the USA earnig valuable export dollars as Britain struggled to shake of rationing of all sorts in the wake of the 1939-45 war. Earlier this year regular readers may remember reading about the convertible version known as the Austin A40 Somerset Coupé with which the Devon shares some body panels.

American Austin Roadster, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

In 1929 the American Austin Car Company was founded to produce a version of the Austin Seven under license. Unfortunately the Great Depression made hitherto much larger cars much easier to afford and so the car rapidly lost any competitive edge it had. Around 20,000 cars were manufactured before the company filed for bankruptcy in 1934. Approximately 1,500 American Austin Roadsters like the 1931 example above are thought to have been built.

MG PA, 6th Annual Carmel by-the-sea Concours

Finally in the Awaiting TLC category is this 1935 MG PA which has been undergoing restoration since 1999.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photo’s of which more will be forthcoming on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and next Monday.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Fast, The Curious and The Elegant” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Rowdy Racer – #187 1960 Daimler SP250

Today it’s a great thrill to introduce the famous Rowdy Daimler and its pilot Ryan Smith known as Racer 187.

Ryan was wrenching for father in law John Aibel and his Le Mans Crosley Hotshot Sport at the Pittsburg Vintage Grand Prix in July 1995. In the paddock next to the Crosley was John Putnam who was having trouble with his red Dailmler SP250 a recently restored ‘barn find’.

Ryan spent much of the meeting helping out John’s son, John Jr., replacing parts and eventually finding and temporarily fixing a fuel tank sludge problem. At the end of the meeting Ryan asked John Putnam that if he ever wanted to dispose of the Daimler to call him first.

Six years later Ryan got the call and has been running the Daimler ever since. With his wife Chief 187 acting as crew chief Ryan recalls fabulous family days out and having great fun racing in the VSCCA ‘Preservation’ Class with Dick Rowley in a Porsche 356 for two seasons until they were both kicked out into separate faster race classes.

The Daimler SP250 is based on a heavily modified Triumph TR3 chassis with a fiberglass body and fitted with a 140 hp 2,547 cc / 153 cui hemi head V8 designed by Edward Turner. The vehicles were in production from 1959 – 1964.

The Daimler has touched the lives of many Rowdy acquaintances, from left to right, Racer187, Chief187, MIL187, Kerry, front row Christi, RockinRouschMan, in the Daimler, ScottinCT’s daughter and ML187, to the right of the Daimler, left to right, Sadie, Lauren and ScottinCT.

Ever the devoted faithful father and now with three children, left to right Rosie187, GS187 and ML187 to groom into the future generation of NASCAR winners, Ryan has taken some time out of his own racing activities while still maintaining a role within the VSCCA as Event Co-Chairman for VSCCA Vintage Races & Racing School at Pocono.

I look forward to taking up the invitation to joining the #187 crew as team windscreen washer upon Ryan’s return to the track.

I’d like to thank Ryan for kindly taking time out to sending me his photo’s and story and the many members of the Daimler and Lanchester Centre Forum who have visited in anticipation of this blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s #187 edition and will join me again tomorrow at ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ for some seriously big stuff in honour of all those who work hard to keep us moving in all weathers when the unexpected happens while we are in transit.


Honeymoon Racer – Crosley Hotshot Sport

My heartfelt thanks once again go out to John Aibel for sharing with us some photo’s of his 1951 Crosley Hotshot Sport, a vehicle that in 1951 competed in my favourite race the Le Mans 24 hours.

Twelve months after Briggs Cunningham took a shot at top honours at Le Mans with his Cadillac Le Mans special ‘Le Monstre’ and more conventional 61 Series ‘Petit Pataud’ two Florida enthusiasts made a low budget attack on the Le Mans 24 hours ‘Index of Performance award’ which sought to calculate the best performance for vehicles completing the race based on engine size and distance covered with this cute little Crosley Hotshot Sport.

Crosley was an American manufacturer that went against the grain in the US automotive industry by building small and light vehicles from 1939 to 1952. Indiana industrialist Powel Crosley Jr came to prominence manufacturing auto accessories, cheap radio’s and other household electrical goods distributed by independent retailers and backed by a then pioneering ‘money back guarantee’ .

The legend behind the Crosley Le Mans entry is that Phil Stiles and George Schrafft inspired by the success of the stock Hotshot in the Sam Collier Memorial 6 Hours at Sebring in December 1950, were discussing the potential of the Hotshot over the odd libation when they decided to write to the FIA stating they had a Crosley to race in the Le Mans 24 hours, and to Powel Crosley saying they had an entry to Le Mans and were in need of a chassis ! The returning correspondence confirmed both an entry for Le Mans and the supply of a chassis !

The Hotshot / Super Sport VC chassis was prepared for the race by Pappy Dwyers race shop in Indianapolis with a one off aluminium body and sent back to Crosley where a specially developed 726 cc engine was installed.

The cast iron over head cam engine was probably the strongest part of the package having a 5 bearing crank so that it could run all day at full power in order to power military generators which was its original application, as a race engine it was frequently modified Bandini even had a twin over head cam version. The stock engine gave around 26.5 hp the development engine for Le Mans on the #59 seen here around 42hp.

Once ready at the Crosley factory Phil and George went to pick it up from Ohio in George’s Aston Martin DB2, they then borrowed Mr Crosley’s boat trailer and converted it to take the Le Mans challenger to the docks in New York for eventual shipping. On the way to NY Phil and George took the Crosley off the trailer fitted the trailer plates to the car and then ran the motor in on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

In practice at Le Mans it was discovered the lights were not up to racing at night and more powerful Marchal units were fitted along with a Marchal generator while a new Prestolite generator was ordered from the States.

During the race the car was an immediate success, despite using only top gear so as not to risk damage to the standard non synchromesh Hotshot / Super Sport three speed gearbox, George was able to turn in 73 mph average laps and easily lead his class however 2 hours into the race the roller bearings in the new Marchal generator proved unequal to its task, with Phil at the wheel the unit seized and tore off its mounts, damaging the ignition loom and the water pump mounted on the back of the generator.

After bye passing the water pump and relying on thermosiphon cooling, like an old Model T Ford, the car was prepared to run using only the battery, however once it became dark and the lights were required the battery was inevitably run flat and after 40 gallant laps the devastatingly quick in its class Crosley was out for good.

The next day the team pooled funds to release the Presolite generator from customs in Paris and fitted it to the Crosley so that Phil and his newly wed wife could tour Europe, in Switzerland the local authorities mistook them for and favourably treated them as entrants in the Monte Carlo Rally.

The Crosely was returned to George Schrafft who replaced the standard Hotshot gearbox designed for 26.5 hp motors with a more robust 4 speed FIAT gearbox. This change without any modifications to the rest of the drive train resulted in the rear axle being pushed back one inch, which does not appear to have adversely affected either the performance or reliability of Le Biplane Torpedo as John sometimes refers to his unique Crosley.

The story of how John came to own this splendid Honeymoon Racer is one of 15 years perseverance, in the late 60’s John read an article about the car written by Phil Stiles in a 1958 issue of Road & Track. John decided to trace the car with a letter published in R&T; and got so many responses he founded the Crosley Auto Club.

Becoming friends with the owner of Le Biplane Torpedo through the club John expressed his interest in purchasing it over many years at the AACA Hershey Annual Fall meeting. He was disappointed one year to find the owner had sold it on to buy a motorhome in the 1970’s, in the early 80’s Johns brother established the Crosley was for sale after the owner had decided to sell his entire collection of racers.

John reluctantly had the roll bar fitted after surviving a slow roll in another vehicle at Dellow without one, and has raced the Crosley and remembers having many entertaining races with Bob Duell in his Panhard Jr and with two other chaps one in a pre war Morgan and a Renault Special.

He says of his car “On my first track run with it, I was going as fast in the corners as the Lotus 7’s. They of course were much faster out of the turns! ” Look out for a book to be published on US Le Mans challengers by Tim Considine which will feature this Crosley in the near future.

I’d like to thank John once again for taking the time and trouble to share these photo’s of his wonderful Crosley and particularly for taking the time to tell me the romantic story behind it. I have always had a strong conviction that there is something quite noble abo
ut taking what is essentially a road vehicle racing it and then returning it to road use, highly impractical in this day and age with all the safety requirements for racing but as Johns “Le Petite Pataud” Replica and Le Biplane Torpedo show once upon a time this was not an unusual practice.

Special thanks to Chief 187 for putting me in touch with John and thanks to everyone for popping by this bumper edition of Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres, I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for a slightly shorter edition, don’t forget to come back now !