Crosley was a small, independent American manufacturer of subcompact cars, bordering on microcars. At first called the Crosley Corporation and later Crosley Motors Incorporated, the Cincinnati, Ohio, firm was active from 1939 to 1952, interrupted by World War II production. Their station wagons were the most popular model, but also offered were sedans, pickups, convertibles, a sports car, and even a tiny jeep-like vehicle. For export, the cars were badged Crosmobile.
Crosley introduced several "firsts" in American automotive history, including the first affordable, mass-market car with an overhead camshaft engine in 1946; the first use of the term 'Sport Utility' in 1947, for a 1948 model year convertible wagon; and the first American cars to be fitted with 4-wheel caliper type disc brakes, as well as America's first post-war sports car, the Hotshot, in the 1949 model year.
Post-war production began with 4,999 vehicles in 1946, and increased to five-figure numbers, producing more than 22,500 cars in 1947. Crosley sales peaked in 1948, with 24,871 or 27,707 cars sold, depending on the source; however, the CoBra copper and stamped steel "tin block" engine proved a major misstep. Although it had proven reliable in military use, it fared poorly under less diligent civilian maintenance. The CoBra was replaced with a redesigned and more reliable conventional cast-iron engine in 1949, but the company's reputation suffered. Sales fell to 8,939 units in 1949, and to 7,612 in 1950. The addition of the Crosley "Hotshot" sports model and the "Farm-O-Road" model, a combination farm-tractor and all-wheel-drive vehicle in 1950, could not stop the decline.
More trouble came after the Big Three automakers introduced bigger, more lavish cars, and began manufacturing them in higher volumes and priced, in some cases, only little higher than a new Crosley car. Crosley sales dwindled to 4,839 units in 1951; only 1,522 Crosley vehicles were sold in 1952. Production ceased on July 3, 1952, when the final Crosley rolled off the production line. Crosley sold about 84,000 cars in total before closing down the operation in 1952. Crosley continued building engines for a short while to fulfill a government contract, but eventually the rights to the engine were sold. The Crosley plant in Marion, Indiana, was sold to the General Tire and Rubber Company.