In 1948 the Crosley Motors Company made a station wagon that got fifty miles to the gallon. One of those cars is pictured above. It’s part of an exhibit about the fifties that you can currently see at the Ohio History Center in Columbus.
Crosley produced these cars in Camp Washington here in Ohio but many Ohioans have never seen one on the road because they only made about 84,000 cars. The company actually wasn’t known for their cars as much as their radios and for WLW, once called the “nation’s radio station.”
Crosley made some other cars, including a pre-war coupe that was quite popular, but the wagon was the most commercially successful. Yet it still wasn’t enough to keep the company afloat. They ceased production in 1952.
The museum has just one small sign about the car but I would love to see an entire exhibit about the Crosley Company. Despite the failed venture into automobiles, owner Powell Crosley was an incredibly smart business man who made radios and other appliances affordable for the common family.
When radio signals weren’t strong enough to reach customers in rural America, he built the most powerful transmitter anyone had seen and began broadcasting the best talent of the day including people like Red Skelton, the Mills Brothers and Rosemary Clooney.
I have a Crosley radio in my collection but they are hard to find and usually expensive.
The influence and reach of the Crosley radio alone should be enough to merit a museum so it makes me a little sad that such a thing doesn’t exist.
Meanwhile, you can go to Columbus and enjoy the station wagon. You also can think of Crosley each time you flip on the radio, and say thanks for all the company did to make this technology affordable and accessible, not just to the wealthy but to everyone.