Rare Rides Personas: Powel Crosley Junior, Tiny Cars, Radio, and Baseball (Part V)
Today we return to the Powel Crosley Jr. story, in 1928. As an aftermarket car parts company owner, Crosley saw business diversification opportunities in the burgeoning field of home appliances. In his first foray, he took on established phonograph manufacturers with his value priced Amerinola.
Then as broadcast radio entered public consciousness in the early and mid-Twenties, Crosley began selling simple radios that didn’t require an outside power source. From there, the new Crosley Radio Corporation branched out into powered radios via the low-priced Pup.
Once again, Crosley took on established players like RCA by offering a comparable radio at a fraction of the price. But once customers had their radios in hand, Crosley ran into an issue: It was 1928 and there was nothing to listen to.
Rare Rides Personas: Powel Crosley Junior, Tiny Cars, Radio, and Baseball (Part IV)
Powel Crosley Jr. entered a new and much more successful chapter of his life in 1916 when he founded the American Automobile Accessories Company (Americo) alongside Cooper Tire Company founder Ira J. Cooper. One of the earliest large-scale retailers of aftermarket car parts, Americo was a pioneer. The company sold parts made by other firms and manufactured its own parts. Many of the latter were invented by Crosley himself.
After just two years Crosley bought out Cooper’s share of the business and pulled in his younger brother Lewis as a new business partner. Despite not having an eye for the financial part of business, Powel was great at sales, advertising, and anticipating what the consumer wanted and needed most. And what they needed circa 1920 were home radios.
Rare Rides Personas: Powel Crosley Junior, Tiny Cars, Radio, and Baseball (Part III)
We pick up our coverage of the life and times of Powel Crosley Jr. in 1916. At 30 years old, Crosley had a spouse of six years and two young children. He’d given up car-selling ventures in Indiana for a permanent return to his native land of Cincinnati.
His experiences in car sales and hype in Indiana turned the inventor into a marketing man, and Crosley’s main source of income was ad copy. He did that in between short-lived side jobs at small local automotive companies (that all went bust). All the while Crosley kept one eye on the automobile market and took notice of just how common and numerous the automobile had become on American roads. It was almost time for a new car venture.
Rare Rides Personas: Powel Crosley Junior, Tiny Cars, Radio, and Baseball (Part II)
We return today to our coverage of the life and times of Powel Crosley Junior, the first subject in our new Rare Rides Personas series. Born in Cincinnati in 1886, Crosley was the son of a lawyer and the eldest of four. From an early age, he showed adeptness at engineering and technology but lacked an interest in the classroom learning behind it.
He and his brother Lewis built their first car - an EV wagon - at ages 12 and 10 to win a bet with their father. It was the first of many car ventures for Crosley, who was completely fascinated with the up-and-coming automobile. By age 21 he was raising funds to start a car company.
Rare Rides Personas: Powel Crosley Junior, Tiny Cars, Radio, and Baseball (Part I)
Welcome to a new series in the Rare Rides universe, where we’ll spend some digital ink considering the humans behind the automobile experience. This series will focus on the life and times of the industrialists, inventors, engineers, tycoons, and the like who decided to devote a portion of their life to the automobile, whether intentional, accidental, or against their will. Ideally, we’ll proceed with personas first, and then cover their automobiles in a Rare Rides or Icons series.
Our first Rare Rides Personas subject is Powel Crosley Jr., a well-known native of your author’s present city, Cincinnati, Ohio. Commenter Jeff S suggested some Crosley coverage back in May, and here we are a couple of months later with the launch of an all-new series. Onward, to Crosley!
Abandoned History: The Current Buick Logo, Just One of Many (Part II)
There has been much speculation over the past week regarding General Motors’ trademark application for a new Buick logo. Likely related to a swath of new EVs on the horizon (but not yet confirmed), the news fired up the old Abandoned History thought box. Why not take a look at all of Buick’s past logos? We began yesterday in 1903, and pick up today in 1942.
Abandoned History: The Current Buick Logo, Just One of Many (Part I)
According to a recently filed trademark application, Buick’s familiar tri-shield logo may be going the way of the dodo. It’s been suggested the potential logo change is in pursuit of a revised image, in preparation for the Brave New World of EVs that Buick will soon unleash upon millions of eager customers. However, given the company has been around for over 120 years this is far from the first time Buick has swapped its badge.
Rare Rides Icons: Arrol-Johnston, First Four-wheel Brakes and Inventor of Off-road Vehicles (Part II)
In our introductory article on historical Scottish car maker Arrol-Johnston, we covered the company’s 1895 inception, its invention of four-wheel automotive brakes, and the financial difficulties that led it to become a subsidiary company under steel magnate William Beardmore. Today we finish with the brand’s rise to luxury and rather rapid demise.
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part IV)
Today we conclude the story of Isotta Fraschini, a company that started as a simple import business but rose quickly through racing successes to become one of the most highly regarded luxury car makers in the world. In our last entry, the Great Depression finished off IF’s last passenger car – the 8B – in 1934. Afterward, the company moved on to heavy truck manufacture alongside its marine and aeronautical engines. Said trucks were still in production when Isotta Fraschini launched a grand final attempt at a return to the luxury passenger car market.
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part III)
Isotta Fraschini advanced very quickly from its humble roots as a French car importer. Through racing recognition and the utmost attention to quality and engine technology, IF became one of the most well-regarded luxury car companies in the world. The firm’s first two large cars the Tipo 8 and 8A were considered on par with Rolls-Royce, and the company found buyers in the elite of America and Hollywood stars.
But the company’s fortunes changed in 1929 as The Great Depression bowed its head, and put a big dent in the ultra-luxury car market. The 8A concluded its run from 1924 to 1931 with under 1,000 total sales. IF was immediately ready with another super lux car as the world was still deep in The Great Depression, but company ownership attempted to pursue other passenger car avenues. And IF might’ve prospered were it not for fascist government intervention.
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part II)
Isotta Fraschini never intended to build its own cars and was founded as an Italian-based importer of French vehicles and engines. But as we learned in Part I, after a few years in the business its small group of owners experimented with building their own cars. Then they tried their hand at winning races with Tipo D in 1905. After D’s successor the Tipo FE was unsuccessful at racing, the company redirected itself and decided to make sporting luxury cars instead. We pick up the action in a year many of you remember vividly: 1910.
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part I)
Founded at the turn of the 20th century, Isotta Fraschini dabbled in different modes of transportation during the handful of decades the original company was operational. Though it ended up as a luxury carmaker to rival the likes of Mercedes-Benz, the founders of Isotta Fraschini never intended to make a car at all.
Car Wreck Humor, 1904 Style: Is That My Eye On the Dashboard? No, That's One Of My Ears!
These days, with the nanny-state enforcers of IngSoc and Agenda 21 mandating 3,000 pounds of safety gear on each new motor vehicle, it’s refreshing to hear that folks in the very early days of motoring got some good yuks out of the idea of impalement on the tiller of a curved-dash Olds. We’ve dug up this 1904 Cal Stewart recording of “Uncle Josh In An Automobile” to demonstrate.