This is a Crosley Almquist Sabre Roadster that was built in 1957 with a Ford Flathead V8, a lightweight Almquist Engineering glassfibre body, and a tube chassis. It was originally used for racing on circle tracks in Monterey and Sonoma, Ohio.

At some point this car was imported into the United Kingdom from the USA and road registered. It’s now being offered for sale by Bonhams as part of their Goodwood Members’ Meeting auction with a price guide starting at £10,000 or $12,800 USD.

Fast Facts – A Crosley Almquist Sabre Roadster

  • Crosley was founded by Powel Crosley Jr., a prominent Cincinnati industrialist already well-known for his successes in radio and appliance manufacturing. The company entered the automotive industry in 1939, focusing on small, affordable vehicles that appealed to Americans seeking lower-priced cars.
  • WWII broke out in Europe that same year, and the United States would join the war in 1941. Crosley switched their manufacturing facilities over to producing equipment for the Allied war effort at this time, and returned to manufacturing civilian cars after the war in 1945.
  • The popularity of Crosley cars boomed in the post-WWII period as the vehicles were cheap to buy and very economical to run – making them ideal at a time when fuel was still rationed. By the early 1950s when fuel was no longer rationed and the economy was booming Crosley sales dropped, and the company ceased operating in 1952.
  • Despite its relatively short lifespan, Crosley was highly influential. It was the first automaker to mass-produce a car with an overhead camshaft engine, the first to use the term “Sports Utility,” the first to be fitted with four-wheel disc brakes, and they’re even credited with producing the first American post-war sports car, the Hotshot, in 1949.
  • The car you see in this article is a Crosley Almquist Sabre Roadster, it’s based on a Crosley platform with a glassfibre body supplied by Almquist Engineering in the 1950s. It’s powered by a Ford Flathead V8, it has a tube chassis, a 4-speed manual gearbox, and front disc brakes.

The Incredible Cars By Crosley

Crosley is today a largely forgotten American automaker, the company only existed between 1939 and 1952 and a few years in the middle of that were spent not making road cars, but making equipment for the Allied war effort during WWII.

Powel Crosley Jr. and Bill McKechnie

Image DescriptionHere we see Powel Crosley Jr. on the left and Bill McKechnie on the right. Crosley was the owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team at the time, and McKechnie was the team manager. Image courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

In many respects, Crosley was an automaker decades ahead of its time. It was founded by Powel Crosley Jr. who had already made his fortune as an industrialist manufacturing radios and appliances.

The cars that he would produce would all be small, affordable, and economical – at a time when American automakers seemed to be going the other way and producing the largest, thirstiest vehicles the world had ever seen.

The era into which Crosley first appeared would be somewhat fortuitous, WWII was underway across the Pacific and materials like steel, rubber, glass, and fuels like gasoline were in increasingly short supply. This all meant that cars that made use of relatively little in the way of steel, rubber, and glass, while also using only a little fuel, were absolutely ideal.

By 1941 when the United States joined the war Crosley’s manufacturing facilities were turned over to the war effort, along with essentially all the other American automakers, and manufacturing for civilian consumers only restarted in the mid-1940s after the war ended.

It would be in this post-WWII period that Crosley really boomed. For many Americans finances were tight, materials were still rationed, as was gasoline, and Crosley’s small, affordable cars that sipped fuel were in high demand.

The company wouldn’t rest on its laurels, Crosley engineers were always innovating, and as a result the company would celebrate a number of major firsts in the automotive industry. These included being the first automaker to mass-produce a car with an overhead camshaft engine, the first to use the term “Sports Utility,” the first to be fitted with four-wheel disc brakes, and Crosley is even credited with producing the first American post-war sports car, the Hotshot, in 1949.

Vintage Crosley Car Ad

Image DescriptionThis magazine ad from 1949 shows the kind of cars Crosley was best-known for, small, affordable vehicles with fuel-efficient engines. Image courtesy of Crosley.

By the early 1950s as the American economy boomed there was less demand for affordable, small, economical cars and Crosley sales plummeted. Ultimately the company would cease building automobiles in 1952, though the ongoing modern trend towards more economical cars with small four-cylinder engines is testament to the fact that Crosley had the right idea, perhaps just a little too early.

The Crosley Almquist Sabre Roadster Shown Here

The car you see here is a one-of-a-kind Crosley Almquist Sabre Roadster that started as a standard Crosley in 1952, before being modified with a new fiberglass body for racing in 1957. The original steel body was removed and replaced with a lightweight glassfiber roadster-type body from Almquist Engineering.

This kind of body swap was common the 1950s (and beyond), as many American cars of the time used body-on-frame construction. Once the original heavy steel body was removed and replaced with a fiberglass unit the car’s relative performance skyrocketed, and many companies offering fiberglass bodies (as well as full turnkey cars) advertised in the back of period motoring magazines.

This car was specifically built in the late 1950s for racing on circle tracks in Monterey and Sonoma, Ohio. The build started off with a Crosley platform and added the above mentioned new body, a 1939 Ford Flathead V8 was then fitted, which is topped with three Stromberg carburetors and a Ken Austin 3×2 intake manifold.

This engine contains Edelbrock aluminium racing pistons, a Clay Smith M3 cam, Johnson adjustable lifters, ground and lapped valves, pressure-tested and surfaced Offenhauser cylinder heads with ARP studs, a rebuilt oil pump, and lightweight headers.

Crosley Almquist Sabre Roadster 14

Image DescriptionThis custom-built Crosley racer is now road legal and ready for whatever the new owner wants to do with it.

Power is sent back through a 4-speed manual transmission with close ratios in the top three gears, it has a lightweight flywheel, and power it sent back to a narrowed Ford 8″ open differential rear with a 3.0:1-ratio final drive.

Thanks to the car’s low weight and highly respectable power output there can be little doubt that it’s a track weapon in the right hands. It’s now been imported into the UK where it’s been road registered, and it’s due to roll across the auction block with Bonhams on the 14th of April. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Bonhams

Published by Ben Branch -