1952 Crosley Super wagon. This is a rare car, being 1 of 1,355 produced that year.
Powell Crosley, Jr. wore a number of hats in the pre-WWII era - radio manufacturer, appliance manufacturer, and owner of the Cincinnati Reds MLB team. Crosley added the car business to his repertoire in 1939 with a line of small economical cars. His first offerings were a 2-passenger coupe and 4-passenger sedan, both of which came with a soft-top. They were later joined by a sport utility, sports car, and the wagon seen in the photo above.
In the plus column, these cars were small and easy to maneuver, barely 10 feet long and weighing a mere 950 pounds. They were also dirt cheap, as in starting-at-$299 cheap. And using a 13 hp 2-cylinder engine to move that 950 pounds resulted in 50 mpg. Want to buy one ? All you had to do was head into one of Crosley's appliance stores where car sales and service were handled.
But there is a reason why Crosley went under in 1952. Small cars just didn't work in a "bigger is better" era. Nobody cared about saving fuel when it only cost $0.10 per gallon. Refrigerator mechanics didn't do nearly as well with automobiles. And even though the 13 hp CoBra engine, (so named because of its braised copper and sheet steel construction), was given a power upgrade beginning in 1946 to 26.5 hp, this was still a bit lacking even by 1950s standards.
And then there was the D'oh! engineering. "Cable-operated mechanical brakes" sounds fine for my bicycle, but not so much for a passenger car. Driveshaft u-joints were deemed "unnecessary" because Engineering believed the "flexible rubber engine mounts" could take care of any vibrations that may be present, and Marketing liked the idea that eliminating the u-joints lowered the price of the car. But perhaps the biggest problem of all was the CoBra engine, itself which began developing holes in the cylinder bores as a result of electrolysis.
The mechanical issues were rectified after a few years. But the damage was done. After a peak of just over 28,000 cars sold in 1948, sales took a tumble. Crosley was out of the car business by 1952.