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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
An acquaintance of mine recently said he would never purchase an all-electric vehicle and offered up a reason I never heard before. “They don’t come with AM radio,” he said.
While this surprised me, shifting technological preferences have indeed started to change how automobiles and broadcasters interact. As an example, a gaggle of Mazda owners found their vehicles stuck tuned to National Public Radio this February after a local station transmitted an FM data packet that effectively froze the cars’ infotainment system amid the swap to next-generation broadband services. That transition has already caused some interesting problems for the industry and electromagnetic interference has likewise become the default explanation for automakers limiting your frequency band choice in certain vehicles. But it doesn’t explain why some companies are ditching AM radio outright. In fact, a little research has shown a lot of the explanations given by manufacturers leave a lot to be desired.
A week or so ago, I was in Tennessee, testing the Volkswagen ID.4, blasting some country music on satellite radio simply because I was in Tennessee, and it hit me. You folks might be wondering what, if any, music TTAC staffers play while testing.
After all, automakers love to tout the premium audio systems available in their vehicles. This means that we, of course, rock out sometimes.
Every gearhead reading (and writing for) this website enjoys the thought of a good road trip. One rule which should permeate all voyages decrees that passengers can complain about the type of music or its volume — but not both. This stems from my own belief that a person can complain about the brand or temperature of a beer given to you by a friend — not both.
Rarely do all hands agree, however. What’s your go-to music genre when hitting the open road?
Sajeev (and your evil twin)
OK, you asked for it so here goes: I have an 2005 saab 9-3 5-speed convertible that is having issues.
I use it as a summer car. It is my third saab so I am use to some weird stuff. Last year, I parked it for the winter and everything worked. I lost my garage space for the winter so I had it under a car cover. When spring came my SID (Saab Information Display) did not work. I know the SIDs in previous generations were an issue but not on this model. As a bonus, my CD player also died, but the radio still worked even without its display.
So I get the SID replaced — really the only reason was so I could see radio the current station — by an independent Saab mechanic, but now the radio does not work. The indie said the amp is bad. The Saab amp setup (I have a 7-speaker, 150W ARC sound system, I think) is fiber optic and a PITA. He checked the fuses and said they are fine. It seems odd the radio does not work the minute the new SID is in. I can replace the amp, but it’s a 4-hour drive one way to do so and I would prefer not to kill a day to find out it was something simple.
General Motors may store seat position, radio presets, contacts and Internet browsing history in a cloud-based system to serve to drivers regardless of the car they’re in, a patent discovered by Autoblog shows.
The patent, which was filed July 14, said separate drivers would be required to authenticate their identities via RFID chip, text input, voice identification or fingerprint reader. The information would be downloaded to the car via telematics.
The patent filing includes several mentions of security measures the automaker would take to protect sensitive information, which would include phone contacts, voicemails, Internet browsing history and Paula Abdul song alerts.
In my office is a clock radio and, if you are a child of the ‘70s or ‘80s, you already know which one. Made by GE, it has a red LED display, a plastic wood grain case and mounts one tinny speaker on top. It runs all day long, playing the greatest hits of the era in which it was built, and it fills the space with the cheerful din of bygone days. Everyone who sees it, thinks that I have owned it forever but the truth is that I spent long hours searching for that exact model. The fact I sought it out at all says a lot about me, that I have a strange attachment to old things, that I think history is important and, perhaps most obviously, that I am not an audiophile. Odd, it wasn’t always that way.
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- ToolGuy "Idle," or "Shutter"? Let's don't get completely lazy.
- Jeff S Might not matter during car shortages. I have a Costco and Sam's membership which I thought about using for buying a vehicle but when the Maverick order banks opened up in June 2021 I went online to built my own Maverick and still had to go to the dealer to order it. With vehicle shortages you might still have to go to the dealer to order but it might be worth it to try to use Costco if you know what you want and are not too picky about colors and options to see what is available now especially if you don't want to wait for a vehicle. I doubt in today's environment that you would save a lot on the purchase of a new vehicle especially since many dealers are adding adjustments to market prices on top of msrp.
- ToolGuy "adjustable regenerative braking"Yes, please and thank you.
- MaintenanceCosts This truck could go plenty farther (assuming good basic maintenance) but the price:remaining life ratio still makes me gag a bit. The used truck market remains overheated and the price is probably market correct, but these are the sort of prices that would make me prefer to buy a new truck if I could afford it.
- Jeff S I ignore the commercials. Never owned a Mazda but I would definitely look at one and seriously consider it. I would take a Honda, Toyota, or Mazda over any German vehicle at least they are long lasting, reliable, and don't cost an arm and a leg to maintain.